The video at the top shows the scene from Sportsnet’s set for Match 5 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. Applause to Zdino Chara, three nights after taking a disc in the face knocked him out of Game 4 – sort of.
Unable to play in the third period, he became the world’s highest-paid janitor. Shara sat on the bench, cheering her teammates despite her inability to play. There were times it seemed like the Bruins would need to strap him to his seat to keep him from getting out there.
After St. Louis won the Stanley Cup, Chara admitted that he had multiple jaw fractures. “I think I can handle the pain,” he said.
Yes, this is an understatement.
When I started at Hockey Night in Canada, I played a lot of Senator games. They were a great team, highlighted by their reaching the 2007 final. They were exceptional to deal with, and Chara was a huge part of that. There were some great memories:
• Wade Raiden says he was embarrassed to take his shirt off around Chara “I’m not the only one”.
• Brian Murray says Daniel Alfredson loved to challenge himself against Chara. After a day of training, Murray said the two were going on a bike ride together. (Chara’s love of cycling is well known.) The next day, after morning skiing, Murray was asked how it went. He said Chara thought Alfredson was weak because he “quit after five hours”. (Alfredson drew his attention to this, denying it was true. For pure comedy, I chose to believe it.)
• In the 2004 Hockey World Cup, Slovakia was weak. During one of the intermissions in their last game, voices rose behind the closed door of their dressing room. Look at the team leader. He said, “Shara.” Then someone else. “(Paful) Dimitra,” said the official. shook his head. “They are destroying their teammates. They cannot afford to lose like this.”
• Upon being named captain of the Boston team, Chara heard four-time Stanley Cup champions Al Arbor to ask him about good leadership. The two lived not far from each other in Florida. Arbor said he would never forget Chara’s booming voice when he first heard it on the phone.
The Stanley Cup doesn’t look small in many hands, but it definitely looked that way when Chara fired this throaty scream when lifting it in 2011.
Chara had two great gifts: size and will. The NHL has its obvious biases for the big guys. Just by being the dimensional, the brutal defender guy was some kind of NHL career guaranteed. But the true measure of his greatness is that he has never accepted that as close to sufficiency.
When he arrived at WHL Prince George in 1996, he was the definition of the project. The stories were legendary about how powerful he was. But under Puma coach Stan Butler – whose name was verified on Tuesday – the defensive man’s legendary work habits began the process of developing him from curiosity to cornerstone. He’s the greatest free agent signing in NHL history.
Chara never asks for anything from others that he does not ask of himself. He made sure that his new or young teammates felt engaged and engaged.
He didn’t just have a “profession”. Teammates have been telling Chara’s stories for decades. This figure will go to the rafters in Boston. He’s going into the Hall of Fame.
Enormous person, tremendous influence.