Legendary defender Zdeno Chara announces retirement after 24 NHL seasons

Zdeno Chara, one of the best defenders of his generation, has announced his retirement from the NHL after 24 seasons.

To round out his career, the 45-year-old will sign a one-day contract with the Boston Bruins on Tuesday to retire in Beantown.

“After 25 seasons of professional hockey 1,680 NHL regular season games, 200 Stanley Cup Playoff games and hundreds of international games, I am proud to announce my decision to retire from the National Hockey League,” Chara wrote on Instagram.

“As a result, I am honored to return to TD Garden today to sign a one-day contract with the Boston Bruins and officially conclude my career with the team that has meant so much to me and my family. There are so many people who contributed to my success, including all of you, and I look forward to giving a big thank you to everyone this afternoon.”

Often referred to as “Big Z”, Chara is the tallest person to ever play in the NHL at 6 feet tall.

Throughout his NHL career, Chara gained a reputation as one of the most feared defenders in the league. In addition to being a dominant defensive force, Chara was a constant contributor to the offensive end – reaching 40 points in nine of his seasons and producing over 50 three times.

The native of Trencin, Slovakia, has played in 1,680 games, the most ever by a defender in the NHL, and has 680 points – 209 goals and 471 assists – plus 2,085 penalty minutes in his career.

Of his 1,680 games, 1,023 were played for the Bruins – with whom he served as captain for his entire 14 seasons from 2006, won a Norris Trophy as the league’s best defender in 2009 and a Stanley Cup in 2011.

Chara is one of four European captains to raise the Stanley Cup – Nicklas Lidstrom, Alexander Ovechkin and Gabriel Landeskog are the others – and the only Slovakian captain to do so.

Chara was drafted by the Islanders in the third round in 1996, 56th overall, and spent his first four seasons in the league with the club. He was traded to the Ottawa Senators in June 2001 along with Bill Muckalt and #2 in the draft (Jason Spezza) for Alexei Yashin. He then signed with the Bruins as a free agent in July 2006.

He signed a one-year deal with the Washington Capitals in December 2020 before returning to the Islanders last season as the oldest player in the league.

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