Zdeno Chara was named the Capitals’ Masterton Trophy nominee on Monday. The award is given out annually to the NHL player who shows the most perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.
“Those two words, I don’t think that you can use two better words to describe (Zdeno Chara) [the] player or [the] person than dedication and perseverance,” Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette said. “I think that it’s a terrific choice for the Masterton and somebody’s that’s well-deserving.”
Laviolette was then asked for an “example, anecdote, or a behind-the-scenes tale” that perfectly described the future Hall of Fame defenseman. Laviolette decided to share a story that gave background behind how the Capitals inked Chara on December 30 to a one-year contract. Zee’s signing with Washington was one of the biggest surprises of the NHL’s offseason.
The anecdote involves a barrier island on the gulf coast of Florida that is known for its crystal clear water.
“Zdeno and I live on the same island in Florida, Longboat Key,” Laviolette said. “We met before the season started before he was signed. When you walk away from a conversation with him, I think I called Mac right away and just talked to him about the conversation and the character that came from him. Just listening to him speak. What he was going to try and do to make this team be successful.”
The last sentence of the quote indicates that Laviolette and Chara discussed and envisioned a Capitals team with the Stanley Cup-winning defenseman on it, which then, in turn, spurred a conversation between head coach and general manager about possibly inking the future Hall of Famer to a deal.
When asked about the beach meeting, Chara said it allowed the two longtime rivals to finally get to know each other. They focused more on broader hockey topics in their talk, according to Zee.
“At the time when we met, none of us knew that this would happen,” Chara said. “It (was) more getting to know each other better and getting the families together. It was really nice to know Peter’s family and kind of hang out. We knew about each other for a long time. We had those places for some time but we never got to meet down there. It was nice to kind of meet up and spend some time together.
“Obviously, he’s a very motivated coach,” Zee added. “He has certain demeanors and it’s a coach very much oriented for details, playing certain ways, certain styles, with certain expectations.”
Chara, who was not guaranteed a full-time spot in Boston, impressed in Capitals training camp and has not looked back since. He has played in 54 of 55 games this season. Chara has been a linchpin on the Capitals’ penalty kill and has helped form one of the best third pairings in the NHL with Nick Jensen. He’s also shown tremendous leadership throughout the season and dropped the gloves twice to stand up for teammates.
“He has not dropped the ball at any point with what he talked about,” Laviolette said. “He’s been a terrific player. He’s been a terrific teammate. He’s all business. He came here for a reason.”
Headline graphic by KP8 Design/Ian Oland using a Pixabay beach photo
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