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Zdeno Chara Retires After 24 Seasons, Signs One-Day Deal With Bruins

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Washington Capitals Zdeno Chara

Longtime Boston Bruins captain and former Washington Capitals defenseman Zdeno Chara is calling it a career.

Chara announced on Instagram on Tuesday that he is hanging up the skates after 24 seasons in the NHL. To close out his NHL career, which consisted of nearly 2,000 regular season and playoff games, he signed a one-day contract with Boston to retire as a member of the Bruins.

“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. “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. Thank you, Big Zee.”

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The 6-9, 250-pound blueliner started his career with the New York Islanders, who took him in the third round (No. 56) in the 1996 NHL Draft. He spent five years on the Island before being traded to the Ottawa Senators. Following four years in Ottawa, he hit free agency in 2006 and signed with Boston, where he thrived as one of the league’s top defensemen while also leading the Bruins to new heights. He helped the team win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and also helped Boston reach the Stanley Cup Final three times in the 2010s (2011, 2013, 2019).

After 1,023 games with the Bruins, Chara hit the market again in 2020 and signed a one-year contract with the Capitals. Despite his one-year tenure in Washington, he had a major impact on the club as a vocal leader and strong locker room presence. In 55 games with the Capitals, Chara had two goals, eight assists, 67 blocks and 88 hits.

“It was a new experience for me. I really enjoyed it. Like I said, since day one, everybody welcomed me with open arms and all credit goes to the coaching staff, trainers, all my teammates,” Chara said of his time in the District. “They did an amazing job welcoming me and making that transition as easy as possible, and I really enjoyed it. It was a great time spent here, and a lot of fun. We played some great hockey.

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“I felt great. It was obviously a condensed season with a lot of games, travel, itineraries and practices. But I thought that the coaching staff, all the trainers manage it really well,” Chara added. “They spread the workloads and rest days between our game and practices the way that we could rest and be fresh. I had a lot of fun. I obviously love to stay in shape and work out and that’s what I did, what we did, and it was a lot of fun.”

He went on to play one more NHL season with the Islanders, and in 72 games in 2021-22, the 45-year-old collected two goals, 12 assists, 90 blocks and 125 hits.

In 1,680 regular-season games, Chara dished 209 goals, 471 assists, 1,493 blocks and 2,022 hits, as well as one career hat trick. He appeared in six All-Star Games and won the Norris in 2009 and the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2011. He finishes his career with the seventh-most games played by a player in NHL history.

On the international stage, Chara appeared in three Olympic Games (Turin 2006, Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014) for Slovakia. He skated in over 100 international games and also played in the KHL and SHL while representing his home nation in several tournaments.

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