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Zdeno Chara signs one-day contract, retires a Bruin

September 21, 2022, 2:30 PM ET [20 Comments]
Anthony Travalgia
Boston Bruins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
When Zdeno Chara signed a five-year contract with the Boston Bruins in July of 2006, the Bruins were stuck in mud. First-round playoff exits, and regular season failures preceded Chara’s arrival in Boston.

Little did anyone know at the time, but the signing of Chara would mark the Bruins best free agent signing in franchise history and spark a run that brought the Bruins back to life in the city of Boston.

“Yeah, absolutely, I would agree with that statement, especially where the team was at that particular moment in time,” team president Cam Neely said about the signing of Chara.

“Then what Zdeno not only brought on the ice but also in the locker room. The leadership abilities and qualities he has and the demand that he had for his teammates to follow a certain lead and to really build back the culture of this organization, I think, was key. And it certainly led to the success that the teams that Zdeno had brought. Yeah, arguably the best free agent signing probably in history.”

On Tuesday Chara signed a one-day contract with the Bruins and then formally announced his retirement from professional hockey.

Chara spent 14 of his 24 seasons in the NHL with the Bruins, all as captain. He led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup in 2011 and then appearances in the Final again in 2013 and 2019.

Take the Stanley Cup victory and ensuing deep playoff runs out of it and still, Chara did so much for a Bruins organization that needed a massive facelift.

Chara came in and established a unique culture, one that has stuck since Chara’s tenure with the Bruins ended after the 2019-20 season.

It's continued with Patrice Bergeron as captain and will continue beyond Bergeron's time as captain.

“Without that, you can’t win. You need to have a culture. You need to have players that want to follow, and it wasn’t just me. It was a team effort,” Chara said. “I would have never done it without Patrice. I never would have done it without Brad [Marchand] coming in and following Patrice’s lead. We had guys stepping in willing to come from other teams and adjust to that culture.”

Memories were aplenty during Chara’s time in Boston. Moments both on and off the ice that Chara will never forget. Of course, none more memorable than what they managed to accomplish in 2011.

“If you say what it means to me, I would correct you – what it means to us. We won it together. It’s not me because I was the captain. We did it together. We had such a committed group. We all bought in to what we did prior years in the practices. Every day, we made commitments to each other and to the team and the organization,” Chara said.

“To finally accomplish it in winning the Stanley Cup, it was such a relief and such a happy moment for everybody, because we did it together. We did it as a group. And the celebrations are just something we will never forget. If you ask any of us, that’s the best memories we have.”

Chara spent his final season with the New York Islanders, the organization that drafted Chara in the 3rd round of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. He appeared in 72 games for the Islanders last year.

While still effective in his role, Chara knew it was time to hang up the skates.

“The biological age is always going to be there; you can’t deny it. I knew where I was, but that was not the main reason,” said Chara. “I think the main reason was just to be home with my family. The past two years, I’ve been away constantly. It was weighing on me way too much, and I knew that first of all, it was time, and it was the right time to step away. I'm completely at peace with it, I’m happy with it.”

Chara’s #33 will soon hang from the rafters at TD Garden, a well-deserved honor for one the organizations best. Chara and his family will remain here in Boston.

Don’t be surprised if Chara takes a role somewhere inside the organization some point down the road.

“This is our home,” said Chara. “My kids were born here, and we call it home, and we love this city and the fans.”
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