It's only fitting that Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara will be skating in his 1,500th NHL game Tuesday night against the B's rival up north in Montreal.
Chara made his NHL debut on Nov. 19, 1997, for the New York Islanders. Nearly 22 years later, the big man has solidified himself as one of the best defenseman in Bruins' history -- and perhaps the NHL.
The 42-year-old will become the 21st player, and sixth defenseman in NHL history to reach the prestigious 1,500 game mark. The more recent, and only active players to accomplish the feat are San Jose Sharks forwards Patrick Marleau (now at 1,668) and Joe Thornton (1,581).
With a big night ahead, the captain had some time to reflect on the historic mark -- thanking some very special people.
"It's a lot of games," Chara said, according to BostonBruins.com's Eric Russo. "It's very humbling. It's something that I will cherish and remember for the rest of my life. Obviously, very proud of it too…I have so many people that I should be thanking - obviously starting with my parents. They did such a great job of raising me and so much sacrifice for me to be able to play hockey."
"My family, my wife, my children - there are so many people. I've been very lucky. Very grateful that I've been able to be in the right place at the right time and get to know some very special people along the way."
Chara also had some nice things to say about his teammates and coaches over the years.
"All of my teammates, coaches…," Chara said, "they've been tremendously helpful, and I wouldn't be playing the game without them. It's a special, special night."
Chara nearly sounds like New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady when talking about the sport he loves, and it doesn't sound like he plans on walking away from the game any time soon.
"I'm enjoying playing. I love this game," Chara said. "This game has given me so much. On the ice, obviously, and off the ice. I just enjoy every day, being along with my teammates and going out there and performing. I just love competing and have an extreme passion for the sport."
No. 33, the tallest player in NHL history at 6-foot-9, played 231 games for the Islanders and 299 with the Ottawa Senators before moving on the B's in 2006. He's played a total of 969 regular-season games with Boston. Chara has notched two goals and three assists through 14 games this season and ranks third in plus/minus at plus 13.
The Bruins and Canadiens take the ice at 7:30 p.m. ET Tuesday at Bell Centre in Montreal.
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