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Chara realizes that his playing days are dwindling

Apr 28, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara warms up before Game 1 of a first-round NHL playoff hockey series against the Detroit Red Wings in Boston on Friday, April 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson) AP

Time is no longer Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara‘s friend when it comes to his playing career. Every day he fights it and thanks to his strong work ethic, he succeeds better than most, but the 37-year-old isn’t kidding himself.

“As you get older and you’ve been in the league for a while, you don’t realize how much you’re going to maybe miss that part of the game once you’re gone,” Chara said, per the Metro West Daily News. “So I’m not saying that I’m thinking about being gone or retiring, but I’m kind of realizing that the time is not going to be always there.

“I enjoy really coming to the rink every day. I enjoy competing in practices against guys and always in the games.

“I love the game.”

And he’s about as good at it as he’s ever been. He earned his sixth Norris Trophy nomination on Monday after recording 40 points, a plus-25 rating, and averaging 24:39 minutes per contest.

He also remains the cornerstone of the Bruins’ defense and arguably the man they will be relying most on during their second round series against the Montreal Canadiens. The series is another opportunity to prove answer persistent critics, who question whether or not the Bruins can keep up with the Canadiens’ speed and look to the 6-foot-9 defenseman in particular when arguing that Boston is comparatively slow.

“We can’t really control what’s being said about us, or maybe other teams,” Chara told CSN New England. “It’s more how we’re going to play, and how we do things on the ice. I don’t think we’re a slow team. …

“I think we’re able to skate and make transitions as well as any other team. I’m not tired of it. I know we can do it, and I believe that we can play with anybody.”

More importantly, it’s a chance to put him one step closer to a second Stanley Cup championship. Because as good as he still is, he’s running out of chances to lift the Cup. He doesn’t want to squander them.

  1. slaugin - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:46 PM

    Big Man’s got at-least another 3 years in him. I think once his contracts up he will walk away.

    • sumkat - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:50 AM

      Easily. I honestly think he could play another 6-7, if he was willing to just be a guy out there, and not the dominant force he’s become. Some guys don’t want to play if they can’t play at a certain level. Some guys can’t stop playing if they can still play at a level that keeps them in the NHL. You never really know which guys are which until that time comes.

      The fact that he has his name on the cup make me think it’s more likely he’s one of the guys that wants to be able to play at a certain level, or not at all

  2. mellard1121 - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:49 PM

    I can’t wait for this series gonna be great

  3. matt14gg - Apr 28, 2014 at 8:01 PM

    Total class on all levels. I truly think that while he’s not a slam dunk he really has a shot at the hall of fame. And if there was a HOF of “respected” players by his peers he would be a 1st ballot.

    • shaundre93 - Apr 28, 2014 at 8:16 PM

      If he captains another Cup he should be. When you are the most important defensemen for 4 trips to the Cup Final (on two teams) it means youre doing something right. Best shutdown defender of all time!

      • lowenni - Apr 28, 2014 at 8:55 PM

        I have a tremendous amount of respect for Chara, and think he’s the best shutdown defender in the league right now…but I’m sorry, Rod Langway is the best shutdown defenseman of all time.

      • drewzducks - Apr 28, 2014 at 9:21 PM

        This Bruins fan and Hab hater would have to go with Mr. Robinson.

  4. shaundre93 - Apr 28, 2014 at 8:14 PM

    Bobby Orr and Raymond Bourque are each adamant about the fact that Big Z is a greater defensive player than either of them ever were. And its not as if he is a chump offensively. One of the greatest of all time, and the face of an awesome turnaround in Boston hockey. Obviously gonna miss him big time, but with the emergences of Hamilton, Miller, Krug and Bartkowski I’m really not overly concerned about post Chara Bruins. It’s gonna suck, but they’ll keep winning! Go B’s and go Z, get another Cup!

    • matt14gg - Apr 28, 2014 at 8:33 PM

      No one outside of Boston will care about this, but someday the number 33 (Larry Bird, Jason Varitek, Kevin Faulk and Zdeno Chara) will be retired for all Boston sports.

      • isithockeyseasonyet - Apr 28, 2014 at 9:05 PM

        That’s a pretty amazing stat, not from boston or a boston fan but that’s pretty cool, don’t know why you got thumbs down for that

      • matt14gg - Apr 28, 2014 at 9:14 PM

        Ahhh, no worries, some people boo Santa Claus too.

      • gallyhatch - Apr 28, 2014 at 11:03 PM

        Sorry, but Varitek & Faulk will not be getting their numbers retired. Despite being local icons, neither one meets the criteria that their respective team looks for to retire a number. That’s the absolute highest honor and the Red Sox & Patriots don’t just pass it out because you helped win 2 or 3 titles.

        Getting inducted into Cooperstown is a must for the Sox (with the exception of Pesky) and Canton a huge factor for the Pats (granted 3 non-hall of famers have had their numbers retired, but I don’t see Faulk as getting the honor ahead of Bruschi or Brown, and even those guys, in my opinion don’t make the grade).

        As a Boston fan, I would have no problem if all 4 teams DID retire the number, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

      • pastabelly - Apr 28, 2014 at 11:03 PM

        The Red Sox only retire HOF numbers. Varitek is not bound for Cooperstown. Faulk was a great Patriot, but #33 will be available to others. Chara will join Bird and two #33s will be up on the Garden rafters.

      • pastabelly - Apr 28, 2014 at 11:07 PM

        The thumbs down only relate to the post being wrong. All Boston fans respect Varitek and Faulk. You just can’t retire every player’s number. The Celtics are a bit guilty in that regard.

      • matt14gg - Apr 29, 2014 at 7:11 AM

        “galleyhatch” and “pastabelly” the Red Sox also have a rule that you are supposed to finish your career in a Red Sox uniform to have your number retired. Of course they broke that rule for Fisk, like they broke the HOF rule for Pesky, and they will break the rule regarding HOF for Varitek.

        And while it is true that the Patriots don’t retire players’ numbers anymore, this is simply a practical matter because there just aren’t that many numbers to give out to players. And for the record they have retired plenty of numbers, they just don’t do it anymore. The point is that Faulk, and his number, WILL BE in the Patriots HOF sometime in the next few years.

  5. sens101 - Apr 28, 2014 at 9:03 PM

    Makes me sick to watch him with a B on his chest. I can’t believe we didn’t keep him in Ottawa. Brutal. Just brutal. 😦

  6. jason9696 - Apr 28, 2014 at 9:06 PM

    I remember years ago when the Ottawa Senators had to choose between keeping Zdeno Chara or Wade Redden. They made the wrong decision.

    • sens101 - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:56 AM

      Yeah for sure. But also I think Chara wanted to be “the guy” as well and with Alfie with the C at the time it didnt seem like it was going to happen.

  7. sumkat - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:55 AM

    I agree with the critics that Chara probably can’t keep up with some of the Habs forwards. But who cares, he’s a foot + taller than most of them, he just needs to be in their general area.

    I also don’t think the Bruins speed disadvantage is going to come anywhere near to making up for their physical advantages. I just don’t see them keeping up with the 4 line grind.

    To a large extent, I think the series is decided by the refs. If they call the games very tight, the Habs have a change. If they call the games reflecting what I’ve come to think of “playoff hockey”, I just don’t see how the Habs can hold up in a series (nothing against the Habs, I think the same thing about every team in the East going against Boston….not I’m not a Boston fan)

    • sumkat - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:56 AM

      *No i’m not a Boston fan*

  8. endusersolutions2013 - Apr 30, 2014 at 1:33 AM

    I realize Boston is improved, and the CLEAR EC favorite. And they standing a good chance of contending with a healthy Hawks team again, with Crow being on top of his game again.

    Would be a GREAT cup series.

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