Back in 2019, former New York Islanders head coach Butch Goring spoke with Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe about Zdeno Chara. It was just after Chara’s 42nd birthday and Dupont wanted to get to why Chara has been able to be a force at this advanced (for the NHL) age.
Goring spoke of Chara’s ability to stack up to the opponent’s top players from a very early age. But he also talked about a chat he had with former majority owner Charles Wang where he warned him not to trade the now returning Islander.
Goring warned New York Islanders trading Chara would be “biggest mistake”
When Goring was fired by Mike Milbury, Goring had an exit interview with Wang and Goring let the Isles former owner know just how he felt about the possibility of the team trading the young defender. Here’s what he told the Isles former owner:
"“He asked me for an appraisal of his team,” recalled Goring. “And I told him, point blank, ‘I know you are thinking of trading [Zdeno] Chara. Do not do that. It will be the biggest mistake you make in your life. Do not trade this guy.’ ”"
Boy was Butch Goring proven right. Not only did the Isles lose the trade by trading Chara, but adding that second overall pick to the Ottawa Senators, a pick that would turn into Jason Spezza absolutely killed the Islanders.
But on Chara specifically, the big defenceman turned into a Hall of Famer after a stop in Ottawa and later in Boston where he won a Stanley Cup in 2011. Since leaving the Islanders in 2001, Chara went on to play another 1,377 games and score another 201 goals and 637 points. He turned into an elite shutdown defenseman and leader revered around the league.
When he eventually hangs up his skates Chara will inevitably work his way into the Hockey Hall of Fame. To go back to Butch Goring’s comments, the trade was easily a big mistake for the Islanders. Butch Goring was right. Now that Chara’s back, he can still help the Isles finish that drive for five, but we’re all thinking “what could have been” had they listened to Goring all those years ago.