Boston Bruins: After 1,500 games, still the same Zdeno Chara

MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 05: Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara (33) salutes the crowd applauding him for his 1500th game in the NHL during the Boston Bruins versus the Montreal Canadiens game on November 05, 2019, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 05: Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara (33) salutes the crowd applauding him for his 1500th game in the NHL during the Boston Bruins versus the Montreal Canadiens game on November 05, 2019, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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MONTREAL, QC – NOVEMBER 05: Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara (33) salutes the crowd applauding him for his 1500th game in the NHL during the Boston Bruins versus the Montreal Canadiens game on November 05, 2019, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Zdeno Chara played his 1,500th NHL game on Tuesday night when the Boston Bruins visited the Montreal Canadiens. This was quite the milestone for Chara, so much so that the Canadiens fans gave him a standing ovation.

What’s the world coming to if Chara gets an ovation in Montreal?!

All kidding aside, Tuesday night was an awesome moment for Chara. He’s now one of only six defensemen to suit up for 1,500 games. The others? Chris Chelios, Scott Stevens, Larry Murphy, Ray Bourque, and Nicklas Lidstrom. Ever heard of them?

Out of his 1,500 games, Chara played 970 of them with the Bruins. After he signed as a free agent with the Bruins, Chara became the most dominant defenseman in the league. Since then, he has one Norris Trophy, a Mark Messier Leadership Award, plus a number of team trophies.

More importantly, as team captain, Chara led Boston to a Stanley Cup and two more trips to the Final.

What’s most impressive, however, is that after 1,500 games, we still see the same Zdeno Chara out there on the ice.

Ask any fans about the state of the NHL, and they’ll all say the same thing: youth. It’s simply a young man’s game now. Years ago, players didn’t make much of an impact until their 20’s. Now, players come in at 18 and push 40 goals.

Yet, Chara continues to dominate at age 42…against players who are less than half his age!

Look at Chara this year. In 15 games, he has five points and is a +13. He averages over 21 minutes in ice time, mostly with Charlie McAvoy.

21 minutes doesn’t seem like a lot for a guy who once went eight seasons without dropping below 24:30. But, think about how coach Bruce Cassidy manages the ice team.

Chara plays on the number one defense pair, so he consistently goes up against top forwards. When the Bruins play Tampa, Chara matches up with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. Against Toronto, Chara gets Auston Matthews. You get the picture.

Not only that, Chara spends a big chunk of his ice time every game on the penalty kill. There are even times when he’s out there for the full two minutes!

So, Chara plays 21 minutes against the best forwards and in the toughest situations. And he consistently comes out on top.

Chara shouldn’t be at this level at age 42. He shouldn’t be this effective, and he shouldn’t be this important to his team.

But there are a lot of things Chara shouldn’t be, and it never stopped him before.

At 6’9″, he’s the tallest player to ever play in the NHL. Guys who are above 6’6″ are often sideshows, jokes, circus acts. Let’s face it: they are there to intimidate opponents and maybe sell some tickets. They aren’t there to help their teams win.

Chara? He became one of the best defensemen of his era; the next in the line of Bruins stud defensemen after Eddie Shore, Bobby Orr, and Ray Bourque.

Next. Why the Bruins must extend Coyle. dark

One day, Chara will go into the Hall of Fame. Another day, he’ll see his number raised to the rafters in Boston. But for now, he’s still here to help his teammates win. Just like he was 1,500 games ago.