56th Overall by
New York Islanders
Zdeno Chara is no doubt the biggest baddest player in all the land. He is the one many fear and no one wants to be on a shift against him. The only safe players are goaltenders (except they need to watch out for his record breaking slap shot) and his own teammates. I recall from an episode of Oil Change, a documentary on how the Edmonton Oilers were/are rebuilding their team, when the GM Steve Tambelinni was deciding on picking either Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin for the NHL Entry Draft. Taylor made a point that he goes into corners for the puck no matter what, and he knew if a player was gonna hit him. He knew he would be well prepared for any hit. Tambelinni asks him “What if it’s Chara?” He was concerned about an injury from the big man on campus. Everyone is, and quite frankly should be, afraid. This is Beyond the ‘C’: The Story of Zdeno Chara.
Chara had his big break from the New York Islanders. They figured they would draft him at 56th. His reputation was a tough player to play against. He was intimidating. During the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, he was traded, along with Bill Muckalt and a second overall pick to the Ottawa Senators for Alexei Yashin. The Islanders figured the team would be better letting Chara go for someone who had established his skills already. The second overall pick by the way was Jason Spezza. The Islanders really messed up big time.
The Ottawa Senators had seen potential. His slap shot, his best feature, was improving each year. They paired him on the power play where he would rip through goaltenders and stop the puck from getting to his goaltender. He played with them throughout the lockout, playing in the Swedish Elitserien for the season. After the 2005-06 season, the Senators could only, financially, sign one of their two elite defenseman again. These two were Zdeno Chara and Wade Redden. After everything, Redden had a new contract and Chara was a free agent. On July 1st, 2006, he signed a 5 year deal earning $37.5 million with the Boston Bruins.
He was captain the moment he walked in. He had replaced Joe Thornton after he left during the 2005-06 season. He was the third Slovakian NHL captain behind Paul Stastny (Quebec Nordiques) and Stan Mikita (co-captain of the Chicago Blackhawks). After a few years of breaking the hardest slap shot competition during the All-Star Skills Competition, he led his team to the Stanley Cup Championship.
The Pacioretty Incident:
During a game against rivals the Montreal Canadiens on March 8th, 2011, Chara shook up the hockey world. He administered a massive hit on Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty that caused a major injury. Here is the video of the hit. He received a 5 minute major penalty and a game misconduct. The hit was sent to the Vice President of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy. The decision was that the hit was a “hockey play” and there was no further punishment. But the city of Montreal wasn’t having it. The Montreal police announced a criminal investigation on Zdeno Chara’s hit. On November 17th, 2011, the Crown Prosecutor Office announced all charges would be dropped and there would be no further investigation. Max Pacioretty would make a full recovery and return to the line-up the next season.
“Zdeno Chara was made our captain after joining us in 2006. His very first game with us he got two points, both of them assists. This has pretty much set the tone for Chara’s tenure here. Zdeno’s not just being known as the biggest player in the league. He is a perennial nominee for the Norris Trophy, and he is a six-time All Star.
He is a man who leads by example. The rest of the Bruins defensemen play his two-way style of hockey. He has power, and a surprising amount of agility for such a big man. Chara is not afraid to drop the gloves either. He has worn the ‘C’ for eight seasons. Why? The coach trusts him, the players respect him, and the fan base adores him.”
There is no doubt that Zdeno Chara is well fit for the captain position. He is a fearful defenseman who can lead his team. Even though he had a few problems with the Montreal police, he fought through it and rose to win the Stanley Cup. He is, no doubt, going to win another Stanley Cup. For Sure!
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