When you look back on the Boston Bruins franchise there have been so many great defensemen to don the black and gold. From the days of Eddie Shore to the obvious greatest of number four, Bobby Orr.
The B’s have a rich history of building their teams from the back end out, with the aforementioned Orr being the cream of the crop. However, who is the second-best defenseman in team history?
Let me guess, you all shouted out Ray Bourque without hesitation. Yes, Bourque will always be one of the most decorated athletes in team history, however, the man standing behind Bobby Orr as the second greatest defenseman in franchise history is current captain, Zdeno Chara.
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As the late Al Davis once said, “Just win baby”. And, under Zdeno Chara, the Boston Bruins have done just that. They have appeared in three Cup finals this decade, winning in 2011 to snap a 39-year drought. Bourque sure had a lot of individual success and of course, this article is not meant to be disrespectful to Ray, but at the end of the day, results matter.
Chara’s work ethic and demand for individual accountability from the players around him make him the far superior leader between the two Garden legends. From the time each guy took over their respective Bruins teams, there is no denying that Bourque was handed the far better situation for success. When Big Z found the Bruins they were a team in the dumps from the late Bourque years right through the Joe Thornton era.
It took one bad season for Z to stamp his attitude and presence on a young Bruins roster. Don’t get it twisted, Chara’s leadership and snarl brought the “Big Bad Bruin” right out of the grave and back to the success of generations past.
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Obviously, when you look at the individual awards Bourque stands far ahead with his five Norris Trophies as the leagues best defenceman. On the other hand, Chara has won just one Norris trophy. With that said, Chara had to contend Red Wings defenseman Niklas Lindstrom, arguably the second-best defenceman to ever lace up the skates. When Chara finally got his hands on the Norris Trophy he ended Lindstrom’s three-year reign as the top d-man. All in all, in Chara’s best years, Lindstrom won seven out of 10 seasons. If not for the perfect Swede, we would be talking about Chara a multi-time Norris Trophy winner.
Alright #nhlbruins fans. This is the biggest poll in #Bruinsfam history and maybe even #boston history. Orr is 1.).who is the 2nd best Dman in team history….Bourque has the stats and the skill advantage , Z has the results and is one of the games all time most feared players
— Big Bad Bruins Podcast (@BigBadBruinsPod) August 2, 2019
No matter what side of the fence you land, there is one absolute fact, Zdeno Chara took a Bruins team who, partially under Bourque’s watch, became the laughing stock of the NHL. The franchise was in such dire straits that when Bourque, after 22 years, finally won his first Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche the Boston fans celebrated downtown with a rally. For the Avalanche. That is just as low of a point as a franchise can be in.
Zdeno Chara looks up only to Orr in Boston Bruins team history because success trumps individual awards. There no way to quantify what Z has brought night in and night out for a decade. Whether he was blanking the games best player in Sidney Crosby in the Eastern Conference Finals or dropping the gloves with the opponents toughest, ‘Big Z’ brought the Bruins out of the swamp of mediocrity and back to the forefront of the NHL.
He has brought back memories of years past with the best decade the franchise has seen since the days of Sanderson and Orr.