Zdeno Chara officially is the most durable defenseman in NHL history.
The New York Islanders veteran logged his 1,652nd career NHL game Thursday night, breaking Chris Chelios' league record for the most games played by an NHL defenseman.
Chara made his NHL debut with the Islanders in 1997 and is still going strong in his 24th season. He spent 14 of those seasons in Boston, winning a Stanley Cup and making five All-Star teams as the Bruins' star defenseman and captain.
Several of Chara's former Bruins teammates -- Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy -- and bosses -- Don Sweeney, Charlie Jacobs and Cam Neely -- delivered heartfelt congratulations for the 44-year-old Thursday on his record-breaking night.
"That’s an amazing accomplishment. I’m so proud of you," Bergeron said in the video. "I’m not surprised that you’re still doing this at such a high level. Your dedication, your perseverance, your competitiveness is unmatched and I’m so proud of you again."
Marchand also wished Chara a "huge congratulations," adding that he "learned so much for you along the way," while McAvoy shared some touching praise for his former blue line mate."I feel so lucky to have been able to play with you, to witness what you’re doing still and the level that you’re doing it at, it truly is amazing," McAvoy said. "You’re an amazing person. I’m so grateful for our friendship, to have called you my friend and my teammate and I just want to wish you the best going forward. I love you brother."
To get a sense of how well-respected Chara is in NHL circles, two of the greatest defensemen in NHL history -- Ray Bourque and Bobby Orr -- also gave him shout-outs on social media.
Chara is a lock to join Bourque and Orr in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and his No. 33 should be raised to the TD Garden rafters in the near future as well.