Zdeno Chara will join a select Bruins club when he suits up for his 1,000th regular season game as a member of the Boston Bruins on Monday night against the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.
The 42-year-old defenseman passed the gold standard 1,000 games played mark as an NHL player years ago, and actually earlier this season suited up in his 1,500th NHL regular season game while receiving a warm, respectful ovation from a Bell Centre crowd that has routinely booed him throughout his 20-plus year career.
He’ll become just the sixth Bruins player (joining Ray Bourque, Johnny Bucyk, Patrice Bergeron, Don Sweeney and Wayne Cashman) to register 1,000 games in a B’s uniform when he plays against the Flyers and continues his role as a shutdown defenseman he’s been filling for the last 13 seasons in Boston.
“You’ve got to enjoy it. You’ve got to love what you do and accept there are going to be some ups and downs,” said Chara, when asked about his longevity. “There are going to be some great moments and there are going to be some things you have to overcome. That is sports and that is life.
"But you have to have the mindset that you love what you do, and you get up in the morning, put the pants on and come to work being happy with what you’re doing, and how you’re preparing. Then you do your best.”
Interestingly, though, he’ll also be starting a select club of one as the only player in Bruins franchise history who's logged 1,000 games as the captain guiding the Black and Gold as he’s done since signing in Boston prior to the 2006-07 season.
Ray Bourque would be the closest to him with 862 games as Bruins captain prior to being traded to the Colorado Avalanche at the end of his career, but the 1,000 games sets the future Hall of Fame defenseman apart in terms of his leadership and longevity while leading the team to three Stanley Cup Final appearances during his tenure.
“It’s definitely an amazing accomplishment. The other difference is that there haven’t been many guys that have played 1,000 games as the captain of an NHL organization. I think he’s the only one in the [Bruins] group, so it’s amazing what he’s accomplished,” said Bergeron, who has been by his side as alternate captain and a de facto co-captain of sorts for the last decade. “He just keeps racking up the milestones and the things that keep coming on lately.
“He’s obviously a special person and one that’s so committed and so competitive. I’m not surprised, you know, that he’s played for so long and that he’s been successful for so long. I’m really happy for him.”
Perhaps just as appropriate considering his legendary toughness and willingness to play through pain while logging 1.530 games and counting, Chara will be playing through discomfort as an ongoing issue with his jaw caused him to miss a game last week before he returned to the lineup Saturday night against the Islanders.