Washington Capitals defenseman Zdeno Chara turned 44 years young on Thursday.
Chara, playing in his 23rd season, now joins Chris Chelios, Doug Harvey, and Tim Horton as the only defensemen in NHL history to play in the league at that age or older.
Zdeno Chara turns 44 years old today. He will join Chris Chelios, Doug Harvey, and Tim Horton as the only defencemen in NHL history to play in the league at that age or older #Hockey365 #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/fCUAa0fwZF
— Mike Commito (@mikecommito) March 18, 2021
Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Nikita Zadorov was asked about Chara still playing in the NHL. “I hope I’m going to be on the beach with a margarita in my hand or something like that when I’m going to be 44,” he said.
After not being promised an everyday spot in the lineup from the Boston Bruins, Chara opted not to retire and instead signed a one-year contract with the Washington Capitals on December 30. Since then, Chara has played in every game this season, posting eight points in 29 games. He is averaging nearly 20 minutes of ice time per game and has helped Nick Jensen have a breakout season.
The mammoth defenseman has skill in bunches.
Check out Zdeno Chara dekeing Jordan Eberle to the ice.
BIG MAN, NIMBLE MOVES. pic.twitter.com/qiQXiMSh6z
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) March 17, 2021
He’s scored big goals.
And he still has leadership in spades.
Scott Mayfield tries to fight Panik after a late hit. Ends up jawing with Zdeno Chara. pic.twitter.com/Rl6qAuhDNW
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) March 17, 2021
All season long, Chara’s Capitals teammates have sung his praises.
Alex Ovechkin on the Capitals signing Chara
Alex Ovechkin: Obviously, you know if someone tell me two or three years ago I’m gonna play with Lundqvist on one team and Chara on another team, I would say, “Are you guys crazy?”
I think he’s experienced you know? He’s a winner. I think he’s a really competitive guy. He wants to play. He wants to win. He’s still big strong. He’s going to help our D to learn a lot. He’s here to help us not “Okay, we sign Chara. Everything’s all in all…” He’s going to come here. He’s going to work hard. He’s going to bring some energy. He’s going to bring some new experience to our team. I think it’s going to help us.
Tom Wilson on if Chara is a “fitness nut”?
Tom Wilson: Don’t put fitness nut down in my words or he might come after me! I said it a little bit before. When you see him walk around, you see him in the gym, there’s just this feeling he puts off. This vibe he puts off that just makes everyone around him better. He’s an amazing leader. Watching him in there putting in work is surreal sometimes how strong he is. Just honestly, when he’s picking up weights, that should be heavy, they don’t look heavy. It’s a lot of fun to be around. I’ve found myself getting better just being around him, working out with him, preparing with him. He demands that from his teammates. That’s a unique trait that a leader has is being able to bring other people and make them better around them. I definitely think he does that.
Evgeny Kuznetsov on his friendship with Chara
Evgeny Kuznetsov: I really want to invite him for dinner one day, to sit down together at home and talk. I don’t think a locker room is the right place to have a conversation like that. I want to know all the details about nutrition, psychology, what motivates him to come to the rink and the gym every day. It’s rather hard to be away from your family, always on the road. In his situation, maybe you would lose the passion a bit, but he is full of desire nevertheless.
He is a really nice and funny guy. Always smiling, and with a sharp sense of humor, his age notwithstanding.
John Carlson on his first impressions of Chara
John Carlson: He’s not a shy person. He’s not the loudest in the room. I can’t compare it to anything. I don’t know how he was in Boston so I can’t compare that. He’s a leader. Everyone looks up to him. He’s certainly not just looking around trying to make assumptions about people. He wants to get to know you and to be a part of the process.
TJ Oshie on his first impressions of Chara
TJ Oshie: It was interesting, in the offseason for all of us, seeing this captain [Chara] come in that is very well respected around the league. He handled it so well. And the guys embraced him, we love having him here. I battled with this guy for like 13 years, and to see this side of him and how much he cares about the guys is awesome. He’s always doing a little extra training here or there; for a veteran guy, he’s always coming to the rink with a smile on his face.
[Chara] came up to me on the bike the other night. I don’t really ride the bike that much, to be honest with you. And he was like ‘Hey, what are you doing?’ And I told him what I was thinking, and he said, ‘Yeah, OK. I’ll do that too.’ After games he’s always like, ‘Osh, what are you thinking?’ and he’ll do it too. I’m obviously lifting slightly lighter weights than him, but it’s been really cool to see his approach.
Nicklas Backstrom on Chara’s transition to the Capitals
Nicklas Backstrom: He’s such a nice guy off the ice. You didn’t think so when you played against him. I thought he was pretty mean.
Brian MacLellan on Chara’s play
Brian MacLellan: You watch him at the end of games. He understands game situations. He understands where to put the puck. How to defend in front of our net. How to stop the cycle. He does all the little things that you want a veteran player. He’s a good leadership guy. He just adds so much on a whole bunch of different levels. He’s good for the coaching staff. He’s good for young players. He’s good our main guys too. He holds guys accountable. He’s just a good player to have and a good leader to have in your organization.
Happy Birthday, Zee!
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 18, 2021
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