Legendary defenseman Zdeno Chara announced his retirement on Tuesday at the age of 45 after 24 NHL seasons. Chara spent the 2021-22 season with the New York Islanders, scoring 14 points (2 goals, 12 assists) in 72 games after signing a one-year contract last September. On February 24th, 2022, in a game against the San Jose Sharks, he skated in the 1,652nd game of his career, the most ever by a defenseman, breaking the mark set by Chris Chelios.
Former NY Islanders D Zdeno Chara retires after 24 seasons
The Islanders drafted Chara in the third round (56th overall) of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. He debuted with the team on November 19, 1997, and played parts of four seasons with the team before being traded at the 2001 draft to the Ottawa Senators with Bill Muckalt and the No. 2 overall pick (Jason Spezza) for Alexei Yashin.
Chara established himself as a star in Ottawa and went on to sign with the Boston Bruins as a free agent in 2006. He served as captain during his 14 years in Boston, won the Norris Trophy in 2009 as the league's top defenseman, and led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup in 2011.
The team announced he'll be signing a one-day contract and retiring as a member of the Bruins. Chara ranks sixth in Bruins history in games played (1,023), and third in points by a defenceman (481) behind Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506) and Bobby Orr (888).
"After 25 seasons of professional hockey 1,680 NHL regular season games, 200 Stanley Cup Playoff games, and hundreds of international games I am proud to announce my decision to retire from the National Hockey League," Chara posted on Instagram.
In his final NHL game, Chara scored a goal in the final minute of a 6-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at UBS Arena. Islanders fans chanted "CHA-RA" through a timeout up until the final buzzer, and both the Islanders and visiting Lightning went paid tribute during his final moments on the ice.
"All that that says volumes about what he's accomplished as a human being in this game," said former Islanders coach Barry Trotz in the postgame. "If he continues to play, which he can, we'll be better for it. And if he decides that he's going to spend time with his family, he's left the game in a great spot."
Chara scored 209 goals and 680 points in 1,680 career NHL games split between the Islanders, Senators, Bruins, and Washington Capitals including 18 goals and 70 points in 200 playoff games.