Zdeno Chara, one of the greatest defencemen of his generation, has announced his retirement from the NHL after 24 seasons.
To wrap up his career, the 45-year-old is signing 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.
“In doing so, I am honored to return to TD Garden today to sign a one-day contract with the Boston Bruins and officially finish my career with the team that has meant so much to me and my family. There are so many people that have helped contribute to my success, including all of you, and I look forward to properly thanking everyone this afternoon.”
Chara, often referred to as “Big Z,” is the tallest person to ever play in the NHL at six-foot-nine.
Throughout his NHL career, Chara earned a reputation as one of the most feared defenders in the league. On top of being a dominant defensive force, Chara was a steady contributor on the offensive end — reaching 40 points in nine of his seasons, and three times producing over 50.
The Trencin, Slovakia, native played in 1,680 games, the most ever by a defenceman in the NHL, and has recorded 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 a captain during his entire 14-season tenure beginning in 2006, won a Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenceman in 2009 and won a Stanley Cup in 2011.
Chara is one of four European captains to hoist the Stanley Cup — Nicklas Lidstrom, Alexander Ovechkin and Gabriel Landeskog are the others — and the only captain from Slovakia to do so.
Chara was drafted in the third round, 56th overall, by the Islanders back in 1996 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 the No. 2 pick in the draft (Jason Spezza) for Alexei Yashin. He then signed as a free agent with the Bruins in July 2006.
He signed a one-year contract with the Washington Capitals in December 2020 before rejoining the Islanders as the oldest player in the league last season.