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Zdeno Chára

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Zdeno Chára
Zchara.jpg
Born March 18, 1977 (1977-03-18) (age 40)
Trenčín, Czechoslovakia
Height 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)
Weight 255 lb (116 kg; 18 st 3 lb)
Position Defense
Shoots Left
NHL team
Former teams
Boston Bruins
SHK 37 Piestany
HC Sparta Praha
New York Islanders
Ottawa Senators
Färjestads BK
HC Lev Praha
National team Flag of Slovakia.svg Slovakia
NHL Draft 56th overall, 1996
New York Islanders
Playing career 1995–present

Zdeno Chara (born on March 18, 1977) is a Slovak professional ice hockey defenseman who currently serves as captain of the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League (NHL).

Zdeno won the James Norris Memorial Trophy while playing for the Bruins in 2008–09. At 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m), he is the tallest player ever to play in the NHL. Zdeno is also the second European-born and trained captain to win the Stanley Cup and the first born and trained in a country beyond the Iron Curtain.

Playing Career

New York Islanders (1997-2001)

Zdeno was drafted 56th overall by the New York Islanders in the third round of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. He would spend his first season in North America with the Prince George Cougars, who subsequently selected Zdeno in that year's CHL Import Draft.

Zdeno spent four seasons with the Islanders organization, becoming a reliable stay at home defender in a primarily defensive role. He earned a reputation as a tough player to play against; intimidating, physically strong, and a punishing hitter who could, on occasion, fight.

Zdeno's physical strength also gave him a very hard slap shot, which seemed to improve each season, although he was never deployed in an offensive role as an Islander. He was traded to the Ottawa Senators during the 2001 NHL Entry Draft as part of a deal to acquire forward Alexei Yashin.

At the time, it was believed that the deal would vastly improve the Islanders, who were never a contending team when Zdeno played there. He was part of a package deal that included Bill Muckalt and the second overall pick from that year's draft (which the Senators used to select Jason Spezza).

Ottawa Senators (2001–2006)

The Senators knew from observation that Zdeno would be a reliable defender and were also aware that he was growing into his body and improving his skills each year. However, Zdeno grew in ways that exceeded all expectations.

In 2001–02, during his first year in Ottawa, Zdeno recorded new career highs in goals (10) and points (23) as he turned into a bona fide two-way defenseman. His powerful slapshot continued to improve, and Ottawa began to deploy him on the powerplay to use it, something the Islanders had rarely done.

It resulted in four of Chára's goals being scored with the man advantage that season. The following year, in 2002–03, Chára began to blossom into an elite NHL defenseman.

Zdeno posted new career highs with 30 assists and 39 points and became one of Ottawa's top two defenders, along with Wade Redden. He also earned his first All-Star Game appearance, where he recorded the second hardest shot behind Al MacInnis in the skills competition.

In 2003–04, Zdeno posted career bests with 16 goals and 41 points, and recorded the league's third highest plus/minus, behind Martin St. Louis and Marek Malík, culminating in his first Norris Trophy nomination. Although Zdeno would lose to Scott Niedermayer as the league's best defenseman, he would join Niedermayer on the NHL First All-Star Team.

After the 2004–05 NHL lockout, in which Zdeno played in the Swedish Elitserien for Färjestads BK, he matched his previous NHL season's 16-goal total and tallied a career best 43 points, good enough for NHL Second All-Star Team honors.

Following the season, Ottawa was faced with the possible loss of its two top defensemen (Chára and Redden) and finances dictated they could only sign one. Ottawa chose Redden. As Zdeno did not come to terms on a new contract with Ottawa, he became an unrestricted free agent at the end of 2005–06.

Boston Bruins (2006-current)

On July 1, 2006, Zdeno signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract with the Boston Bruins and was named the team's captain, a role left vacant since Joe Thornton's departure during the 2005–06 season.

He became only the third Slovak-born NHL player to become a team captain, after Peter Stastny of the Quebec Nordiques and Stan Mikita (co-captain) of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Zdeno was named to the 2007 All-Star Game, his second appearance in Dallas and scored two goals in an 12–9 Eastern Conference loss. He also won the hardest shot segment of the preceding skills competition, clocking a shot at 100.4 mph.

While Zdeno's season was a personal success for many of these reasons, the Bruins were in a rebuilding mode at the time, and the signing was questioned throughout the league as he posted an uncharacteristic −21 +/- rating that season due to the Bruins struggles. Zdeno's 32 assists, however, were a new career high.

In 2007–08, Zdeno was voted a starter in the 2008 NHL All-Star Game, the first time in his career he received such All-Star Game honors. He repeated as the winner of the hardest shot competition, recording an even-faster 103.1 mph (166 km/h) on the radar gun.

On March 8, 2008, during a game against the Washington Capitals, Zdeno suffered from a torn labrum in his left shoulder. However, after missing five games, he played the remainder of the season including the playoffs. Upon a first-round elimination at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens, he underwent a shoulder operation on April 29.

At the end of the season, Zdeno received his second nomination for the Norris Trophy after tallying a career-high 17 goals, 34 assists and 51 points, marking the fifth straight season he had either matched or bested his previous season's points total.

The Bruins improved tremendously this season and the critics who had questioned the Bruins' signing of Zdeno the previous season were largely silenced by his, and the team's, improved play.

In 2008–09, Zdeno was named to his fourth All-Star Game. As back-to-back champion of the hardest shot competition, he initiated a charity drive among the participants ($1,000 per player) to go to the charity of choice of the competition's winner.

The 2009 installation of the event featured additional intrigue, as three players widely considered to possess the hardest shots in the NHL (Zdeno, Sheldon Souray and Shea Weber) had all been chosen as All-Stars, and therefore would participate in the event.

Having raised $24,000 from the six competitors and their respective teams, the NHL and the NHLPA, Zdeno set a new Skills Competition record, with a 105.4 mph (169.7 km/h) slapshot.

Zdeno donated the winnings to Right to Play and due to his leading role in fundraising for charity, the hardest shot competition that year was punningly dubbed a "Chara"ty event.[11] The shot passed Al Iafrate's previous record 105.2 mph (169.3 km/h) slapper from the 1993 competition.

During the season, Zdeno posted a career best 19 goals and eclipsed his career best points total, reaching the 50 point plateau for the second consecutive year with a goal and an assist in his final game of the season.

For his efforts, Zdeno won his first Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenceman, beating out Mike Green of the Washington Capitals and Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings. Chára would post another standout season in 2009–10, scoring 44 points. His goal total fell to 7 from the year before, but his play was as strong as ever, leading the Bruins to lock him up long term with a contract extension.

On October 9, 2010, Chára re-signed with the Bruins on a seven-year deal. In 2010–11, his 14 goals and 44 points were another strong campaign, leading to yet another All-Star selection and new heights as his slapshot continued to break records at the 2011 NHL All-Star Game in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Zdeno eclipsed his own previous record with a shot clocked at 105.9 mph (170.43 km/h). He also achieved a personal milestone that is exceptionally rare for a defenceman.

On January 17, 2011, he recorded his first career hat trick against the Carolina Hurricanes in a 7–0 victory. He celebrated the feat by performing retired Slovak NHL star Peter Bondra's celebration, where he mocked throwing a hat into the air.

The 2010–11 season culminated in the ultimate glory for Zdeno as he captained the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup against the Vancouver Canucks for the first time since 1972.

In doing so, he became the first Slovak to captain a Stanley Cup Champion, and only the second European after Nicklas Lidstrom of Sweden had done so as captain of the Detroit Red Wings. Zdeno also became the first player born in a country behind the Iron Curtain to captain a Stanley Cup winner.

At the 2012 NHL All-Star Game's Hardest Shot skill competition, Zdeno yet again raised his measured hardest slap shot velocity to another record, attaining 108.8 mph (175.1 km/h).

Runner-up Shea Weber surpassed Zdeno's 2011 event record by recording a 106.0 mph blast in the same contest, but his performance ensured that he kept his crown.

Zdeno is widely considered to have the hardest slapshot in the NHL and quite possibly the world (the KHL claims the world record belongs to Alex Riazantsev at 114.1 mph, but due to differences in the mechanics of the KHL competition, the NHL does not recognize this figure).

Zdeno has won the hardest shot competition at the All-Star Game Skills Competition five times in a row (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012). On March 24, 2012, he played his 1,000th career NHL game against the Los Angeles Kings, a 4–2 victory for the Bruins.

During the 2012 NHL lockout, Zdeno agreed to play for HC Lev Praha of the Kontinental Hockey League until the NHL resumed. He returned from the lockout to post another solid season, with 7 goals and 12 assists in the 48 game season.

Zdeno's point totals were down due to some of Boston's struggles down the stretch, particularly on the power play where only posted 1 assist all season despite plenty of ice time in man advantage situations.

However, he remained a rock on defense, and a key contributor for the Bruins squad. In the playoffs, he was physically dominant and played a key role in leading his team to the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals.

Following the 2013–14 season, Zdeno was named a finalist for the Norris Trophy, awarded yearly to the defenseman judged to be the best at his position. He was nominated along with Duncan Keith, the eventual winner, and Shea Weber. Zdeno finished runner-up in the voting.

Pachioretty Incident

On March 8, 2011, Zdeno seriously injured Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty with a hard hit that drove Pacioretty's head directly into an off-ice stanchion at the end of the bench.

Pacioretty was taken off the ice on a stretcher. The extent of the injury was revealed the next day to be a non-displaced fracture to the 4th vertebra and a severe concussion.

For delivering the hit, Zdeno received a five-minute major penalty & a game misconduct and videotape of the play was sent to NHL VP of hockey operations Mike Murphy for review. However, Murphy decided no further punishment was warranted, calling it a "hockey play."

Although a criminal investigation was announced by the Montreal police immediately after the incident, the Crown Prosecutor Office announced on November 17, 2011 that Zdeno would not be criminally charged. Pacioretty eventually made a full recovery, returning to Montreal the following season.

Career Statistics

Regular season and playoffs

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1994–95 Dukla Trenčín SVK 2 0 0 0 0
1995–96 Sparta Prague CZE 1 0 0 0 0
1995–96 ŠHK 37 Piešťany SVK.1 10 1 3 4 10
1996–97 Prince George Cougars WHL 49 3 19 22 120 15 1 7 8 45
1997–98 Kentucky Thoroughblades AHL 48 4 9 13 125 1 0 0 0 4
1997–98 New York Islanders NHL 25 0 1 1 50
1998–99 Lowell Lock Monsters AHL 23 2 2 4 47
1998–99 New York Islanders NHL 59 2 6 8 83
1999–00 New York Islanders NHL 65 2 9 11 57
2000–01 New York Islanders NHL 82 2 7 9 157
2001–02 Dukla Trenčín SVK 8 2 2 4 32
2001–02 Ottawa Senators NHL 75 10 13 23 156 10 0 1 1 12
2002–03 Ottawa Senators NHL 74 9 30 39 116 18 1 6 7 14
2003–04 Ottawa Senators NHL 79 16 25 41 147 7 1 1 2 8
2004–05 Färjestad BK SEL 33 10 15 25 132 13 3 5 8 82
2005–06 Ottawa Senators NHL 71 16 27 43 135 10 1 3 4 23
2006–07 Boston Bruins NHL 80 11 32 43 100
2007–08 Boston Bruins NHL 77 17 34 51 114 7 1 1 2 12
2008–09 Boston Bruins NHL 80 19 31 50 95 11 1 3 4 12
2009–10 Boston Bruins NHL 80 7 37 44 87 13 2 5 7 29
2010–11 Boston Bruins NHL 81 14 30 44 88 24 2 7 9 34
2011–12 Boston Bruins NHL 79 12 40 52 86 7 1 2 3 8
2012–13 HC Lev Praha KHL 25 4 6 10 24
2012–13 Boston Bruins NHL 48 7 12 19 70 22 3 12 15 20
2013–14 Boston Bruins NHL 77 17 23 40 66 12 2 2 4 14
2014–15 Boston Bruins NHL 63 8 12 20 42
NHL totals 1195 169 369 538 1649 141 15 43 58 186

International

Year Team Event Result   GP G A Pts PIM
1999 Slovakia WC 7th 6 1 0 1 6
2000 Slovakia WC Template:Sica 9 0 0 0 12
2001 Slovakia WC 7th 7 0 1 1 10
2004 Slovakia WC 4th 9 2 0 2 2
2004 Slovakia WCup 7th 4 0 2 2 8
2005 Slovakia WC 5th 7 0 2 2 2
2006 Slovakia Oly 5th 6 1 1 2 2
2007 Slovakia WC 6th 7 3 1 4 4
2010 Slovakia Oly 4th 7 0 3 3 6
2012 Slovakia WC Template:Sica 10 2 2 4 4
2014 Slovakia Oly 11th 4 0 1 1 4
Senior totals 76 9 13 22 60

International Play

Medal record
Competitor for Template:Country data SVK
Ice hockey
Silver 2012 Finland
Silver 2000 Russia

Zdeno has played for Slovakia in the following international competitions:

  • 1999 World Championships
  • 2000 World Championships
  • 2001 World Championships
  • 2004 World Championships
  • 2004 World Cup
  • 2005 World Championships
  • 2006 Winter Olympics
  • 2007 World Championships
  • 2010 Winter Olympics
  • 2012 World Championships

During the 2014 Winter Olympics' opening ceremony, he served as the flag bearer for Slovakia.

International Statistics


Year Team Event   GP G A Pts PIM
1999 Slovakia WC 6 1 0 1 6
2000 Slovakia WC 9 0 0 0 12
2001 Slovakia WC 7 0 1 1 10
2004 Slovakia WC 9 2 0 2 2
2004 Slovakia WCup 4 0 2 2 8
2005 Slovakia WC 7 0 2 2 2
2006 Slovakia Oly 6 1 1 2 2
2007 Slovakia WC 7 3 1 4 4
2010 Slovakia Oly 7 0 3 3 6
2012 Slovakia WC 10 2 2 4 4
World Championships Totals 55 8 6 14 40
World Cup of Hockey Totals 4 0 2 2 8
Olympics Totals 13 1 4 5 8
Total International 62 7 10 17 52

Awards & Achievements

  • Named 2012 Norris Trophy Finalist.
  • Named 2011 Norris Trophy Finalist.
  • Played in NHL All-Star Game in 2003, 2007, 2008 (starter), 2009, 2011 and 2012 (captain).
  • Named to the NHL First All-Star Team in 2004 and 2009.
  • Named to the NHL Second All-Star Team in 2006, 2008 and 2011.
  • Won the James Norris Memorial Trophy in 2009.
  • Won the Hardest Shot competition at the NHL All-Star Game SuperSkills Competition in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012 where he set a record of 108.8 mph (175.5 km/hr).
  • Won the NHL Plus-Minus Award in 2011 with a +33 rating.
  • Won the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2011.
  • Won the Stanley Cup in 2011.
  • Award for 1000 games played on March 27, 2012
  • Won The Hockey News' John Ferguson Award (for toughest player) in 2013.

Records

  • NHL All-Star Skills Competition hardest shot record – 108.8 mph (175.5 km/hr) (2012) (surpassed his previous record from 2011 at 105.9 mph, which surpassed a second previous record of his from 2009 at 105.4 mph)
  • First NHL player born inside the Iron Curtain to captain an NHL team to the Stanley Cup (2011).

Personal Life

Before he was drafted in the NHL back in Slovakia, Zdeno's coaches told him that he was better off playing basketball instead, due to his great size.

On July 14, 2007, Zdeno married his long-time girlfriend Tatiana Biskupicová in a Catholic church in Nemšová, Slovakia. On April 27, 2009, Tatiana gave birth to the couple's first child, daughter Elliz Victoria Chara (or Chárová).

Zdeno's father Zdeněk Chára, was a prominent Greco-Roman wrestler. He is an Athletic Ambassador for Right to Play. In July of 2008, he spent two weeks in Africa, going to Mozambique in support of the charity and then climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with fellow NHL player Robyn Regehr.

Zdeno speaks seven languages: Slovak, Czech, Polish, Swedish, Russian, German, and English. He has a financial planning degree from Ottawa's Algonquin College.

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