Washington Capitals defenseman Zdeno Chara continues to cement his remarkable legacy. This time, he added another award to his trophy case.
Slovakia president Zuzana Čaputová honored Chara and 23 others at a ceremony celebrating the 28th anniversary of the country’s independence. According to SME, the award honored Chara “for extraordinary merits in the field of sports and for extraordinary dissemination of the good name of the Slovak Republic abroad.”
“Hard to find [words] to describe my feelings of how proud, honored and grateful I am to receive a national award… I have chills and feeling warm heart at the same time,” Chara wrote on Instagram. “The memories of this special ceremony will stay with me for rest of my life. Thank you so much.”
The 6-foot-9 blueliner is coming off of his 23rd NHL season, which he spent as a member of the Capitals. Through 55 regular-season games, Chara picked up two goals, 10 points, 67 blocks and 88 hits. He also wore the “A” from time to time and inspired his teammates with his work ethic, drive and leadership. Chara was also Washington’s Masterton nominee for 2021.
Before coming to D.C., Chara served as the Boston Bruins captain for 14 seasons. He led the B’s to the Stanley Cup Final three times and helped them win it all in 2011. He also received the Norris Trophy and Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award during his tenure in Beantown.
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Chara also played eight years with the Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders. New York drafted Chara in the third round of the 1996 NHL draft.
In 1,608 total NHL games, Chara has 207 goals, 666 points and a plus-minus of +293 (leads active players). “Big Z” is a five-time Norris Finalist and seven-time NHL All-Star.
Chara also led Slovakia to new heights on the international stage. He was Slovakia’s captain for the 2006, 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympic Games and helped his country capture two WC silver medals.
The pending UFA is still pondering his NHL future. From his rocket of a shot to the way he carries himself as a professional, Chara’s already established himself as one of the best defensemen to lace ’em up.
Former NHLer Pavel Demitra, who passed away in the Lokomotiv plane crash in 2011, was also honored at the ceremony.