Zdeno Chara, 44, has opted not to retire and has signed a one-year deal with the New York Islanders.
The signing will keep Chara on the East Coast and near his family, who has remained in Boston since the defenseman left the Bruins in 2020.
ESPN’s Kevin Weekes was the first to report the news.
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) September 18, 2021
“It’s a very solid group with strong leadership and strong core players that have been part of the Islanders for a long time,” Chara said. “It’s a well-structured and cultured team now, and for sure they’ve been making a lot of noise around the league.”
Chara moves on from the Capitals, who he spent the 2020-21 season with. The Norris Trophy-winning rearguard signed a one-year contract with Washington a week before training camp, leaving his beloved Bruins that he captained and won the Stanley Cup with in 2011. The Norris Trophy winner met with head coach Peter Laviolette in Longboat Key, FL, during the previous offseason.
Here are some of our favorite stories covering Zdeno Chara last season.
— RMNB (@russianmachine) September 18, 2021
Chara, who was not guaranteed a jersey every night by the Bruins, got one in Washington and played 55 of 56 games last season. Chara formed one of best third pairings in hockey with Nick Jensen and was a crucial member of the Capitals’ penalty-killing unit (84.0% kill rate) that ended the year fifth-best in the league.
Chara, the tallest player ever to play the game (6-9), was a beloved teammate in Washington and played in his 1600th career game last season, becoming the 13th NHL player ever to do so.
Chara wrote on Instagram after that game:
Last night was a special night.
Not just because of the milestone, but everyone who was part of it.
I am blessed and lucky to still be playing this game, but I wouldn’t still be here without the love and support from my wife Tatiana and 3 beautiful children Elliz, Ben & Zack. I love you!
Playing this game is a privilege, and I am honored to be part of the @capitals team with such a classy Owner, Management, Coaching, and Training staff. And, of course, I’m so grateful for all of my teammates who I care about so deeply.
Seeing everyone rally around “1600” for me was very special. We build relationships and that’s what makes a great team, that’s what makes a brotherhood.
Thank you so much guys, it was a meaningful night.
The signing puts Chara on the team that he got the grumpiest against last season. Chara fought twice during the 2020-21 campagin, dropping his gloves both times with Islanders captain Matt Martin.
The 2021-22 season will be Chara’s 24th in the NHL. He began his career with the Islanders in 1997-98 and spent four seasons there before being traded to the Ottawa Senators.
“It’s kind of full circle,” Chara said. “Who would know that this would kind of work out the way it did after 20-some years?”
Islanders Agree To Terms On One-Year Contract With Chara
The New York Islanders have agreed to terms with defenseman Zdeno Chara on a one-year contract.
Chara has played 1,608 NHL games, recording 666 points (207 goals, 459 assists) with the Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators and Islanders. The Trencin, Slovakia native was originally drafted by the Islanders in the third round (56th overall) of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft.
Prior to joining Washington for the 2020-21 season, Chara served as the captain of the Boston Bruins for 14 seasons. Among active NHL players, Chara ranks first in plus/minus (+293), penalty minutes (2,000) and second in games played (1,608). His 481 points with the Bruins (148 goals, 333 assists) ranks third among defensemen in Boston team history, behind Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506) and Bobby Orr (888). He won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman in 2008-09 after recording a career-high 19 goals and 31 assists in 80 games with Boston. He was the recipient of the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2010-11 for his exemplary leadership both on and off the ice. He is a six-time NHL All-Star (2002-03, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2011-12) and recipient of the Golden Puck as Slovakia’s Player of the Year three times (2008-09, 2010-11, 2011-12).
Chara won the Stanley Cup with Boston in 2011, becoming the second European-born captain to win the Stanley Cup (Nicklas Lidstrom) and the first and currently only from Slovakia. Chara has recorded 70 points (18 goals, 52 assists) in 200 career playoff games, the most games played among active defensemen.
Chara has represented Slovakia in international play on several occasions, including three Olympics (2006, 2010, 2014). He served as alternate captain for Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, scoring two goals in six games to help the team to a second-place finish at the tournament.
Screenshot: NBC Sports Washington
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