It looks like the New York Islanders have found their new left-hand defenseman to round out the blueline. With Zdeno Chara back on the Island after being traded away 20 years ago, it looks like the team has three solid defensive pairs.
At 44, there could very well be some ‘load management’ with Chara. He certainly won’t play more than 20 minutes a night, he might not play every day either. But if he plays just over half the season (43+ games) he could break an NHL record.
New York Islanders Zdeno Chara can break a record this year
That record is for the most NHL games played by a defenseman. Currently, that record is held by Chris Chelios with 1,651 NHL games played. Chara has 1,608. So, with 44 regular-season games played, Chara passes Chelios and becomes the most played defenseman to ever play the game.
To start that run, and then (by all likelihood) end it with the New York Islanders is poetic as hell. As Chara would tell reporters in his media availability after the signing was made official by the club, these things aren’t scripted, they just happen:
"“Nobody can really imagine being in a position to go back where they start. It just worked out that way and I’m glad it did.” -Zdeno Chara"
Can he hit 43+ games? I don’t see why not. Sure, he’s 44, but the man is rarely out long. Over the last four years, he’s missed 32 games or 11% of the available games for his club. I have no doubt with a bit of load management he can play out 75+% of an 82 game season. Which would easily push him past Chelios for the most NHL games played by a defenseman, ever.
Doing so with the Islanders is very fitting and very poetic.