Oh captain my captain: is the Chara era over in Boston?

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April 28, 2017 by hochmancarter

Zdeno Chara played for the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators before signing with the Boston Bruins on 2006. (Courtesy of Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Written by Carter Hochman

A knot is slowly forming in my stomach as I question this, but is Zdeno Chara seeing his last days in black and gold? The 40-year-old captain has 1,350 games under his belt, 188 goals, 416 assists, 604 points, a +/- of 218 and 1,779 penalty minutes.

For the 2008-2009 season, he won the James Norris Memorial Trophy, given to the NHL’s best defenseman who “demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position,” as described by the NHL. For his 2010-2011 Stanley Cup winning season, Chara added the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award to his accolades, the NHL states that “the award is given “to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice during the regular season.”.

However, many people are saying the big man’s game is not what it used to be after 20 seasons, and are calling for him to be traded. His speed is declining in a game where speed and agility are becoming evermore paramount. He is relying more and more on his extraordinarily long reach to fend off attackers. I disagree.

Obviously Chara is not nearly as fast as he was 20 years ago, but who is? Some might point to the likes of the seemingly ageless Jaromir Jagr, but I think that’s a rare (yet unbelievable) case. Chara’s stats have actually improved over the past two seasons. Last season his +/- was 12, he ended this season with a +/- of 18. Last season he scored nine goals, this season he scored 10.

The only two categories that didn’t improve are points and assists, and even those didn’t drop off by much at all. His assists dropped by a mere nine, and his points dipped by only eight. For 40 years old, and being paired with two rookie defensemen half his age during the season, that’s not terrible at all.

People may be calling for a change, but I say nay. Chara bleeds black and gold and should retire as such when his time comes.

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