Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara made team history Monday when he took the ice for a game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Chara became just the sixth player in franchise history to play 1,000 games for Boston, following Ray Bourque (1,518 games), Johnny Bucyk (1,436), current center Patrice Bergeron (1,065), current general manager and former defenseman Don Sweeney (1,052) and Wayne Cashman (1,027).
The veteran blueliner joined the Bruins ahead of the 2006-07 season and immediately became the club's 18th captain at the onset of a rebuild that built Boston into one of the NHL's most successful franchises of the 2010s. Chara has been a model of consistency and success for the team in his 14 seasons there, specializing as a top defenseman and penalty killer even in the twilight of his career. Along the way, Chara won the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman in 2008-09, led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup victory in 2011 and took two more trips to the final in 2013 and 2019.
Chara played eight seasons split between the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators organizations before he joined Boston; earlier this year, he became the sixth defenseman in league history to play 1,500 games.
"It's a huge privilege and obviously a tremendous honor," Chara told NHL.com on Monday. "I've been very lucky to play with many great players and have great coaches. This is obviously something I will always remember and cherish. [There are] so many people I'm very, very thankful to... Obviously, you don't see that very often, players staying with one organization for that long so they are able to play that many games. [I'm] very fortunate that I have been able to stay with this franchise."
Chara's 1,530 career games places him 18th all-time among NHL skaters. If he plays in all 35 of Boston's remaining games this season, he will pass defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom to take 13th place on the all-time games played list.
Bruins head coach described Chara as "like a second coach on the ice" ahead of Monday's game in Philadelphia.
"He sends the same message we're sending in terms of how to play the right way," Cassidy told NHL.com. "He loves the game, he loves to practice... In the gym, I think guys realize how hard he works to stay in peak condition for a guy that's accomplished so much. He's never satisfied with that part of it. He always wants to remain at the top of his game in terms of that physical conditioning."