Max Pacioretty

Chara praises 'very classy' Habs fans' for ovation in his 1,500th NHL game

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Chara praises 'very classy' Habs fans' for ovation in his 1,500th NHL game

MONTREAL – It wasn’t surprising that the first-class Montreal Canadiens organization opted to acknowledge Bruins captain Zdeno Chara playing in his 1500th NHL game on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.

Any player getting to 1,500 games played is worthy of recognition and Chara is just the sixth NHL defensemen in league history to get to that mark, with only Nicklas Lidstrom, Ray Bourque, Larry Murphy, Scott Stevens and Chris Chelios still ahead of him on the all-time list. When Chara popped up on the jumbotron with the 1,500 games played graphic, there was a smattering of boos with the cheers for a player that has routinely been booed at the Bell Centre during the Bruins/Canadiens rivalry.

But it quickly became a loud, long ovation from Canadiens fans with Chara standing up at the Bruins bench, waving, clapping to the fans and mouthing the words “thank you” during the TV timeout.

It was a remarkable, meaningful moment given how much bad blood has gone on between Chara and Canadiens fans in his career, and it was duly noted by the Bruins captain following Boston’s 5-4 loss.

“Obviously, that felt really nice. I really appreciated it and it was very classy,” said Chara. “It’s something that I will definitely remember. [The boos in the past] just shows that they are very passionate fans and they support their team. It’s pretty normal for Canadien fans to show so much support for their team. We’ve had some good battles and it’s a good rivalry. There’s a lot of history with both teams, so it’s always fun to play in these games.”

It was a short eight years ago when Chara knocked Max Pacioretty into the stanchion at the Bell Centre and caused a massive uproar with Habs fans that flooded Quebec 911 lines calling for his arrest for assaulting the Montreal forward. That was probably the height of his role as a villain in the rivalry and led to him getting booed lustily each time he touched the puck for years after that. 

Clearly, that’s now water under the bridge with Chara’s career on track for the Hall of Fame once he decides to stop playing, and milestones like the 1,500 games played coming with more regularity as he keeps on going at 42 years old. Chara’s teammates and the Bruins coaching staff have obviously been in awe of his longevity for a while and were happy that the knowledgeable Habs fans showed their respect for his 20-plus year career as well.

“I thought it was great…classy,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Listen, this is one of the Original Six right here and they’ve got a lot of classy fans in Montreal. Just because it’s a Bruins/Habs rivalry and if they like the Canadiens it doesn’t mean I dislike their fans. They’re good people and they know hockey, so I was glad to see it.”

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Morning Skate: Plenty of lingering Erik Karlsson talk the day after his seismic trade went down

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Morning Skate: Plenty of lingering Erik Karlsson talk the day after his seismic trade went down

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while the Bruins actually kick off their preseason schedule this weekend. It’s amazing how quickly that gets going. 

*With Max Pacioretty and Erik Karlsson both traded out of the Atlantic Division over the last few days, more teams in Boston’s division like the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators are embracing massive rebuilds. Now with the news that Henrik Zetterberg’s career is over due to back woes, there’s another team in Detroit that’s saying goodbye to one of their star players and probably taking a hit in the short term because of it. Clearly the Florida Panthers are going to be a competitive playoff-level team and the Buffalo Sabres could surprise if Rasmus Dahlin really flourishes in his first NHL season, but it sure looks like there are some big time tomato cans at the bottom of the Atlantic Division for this coming year.  

*Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee sits down with Pierre Lebrun to talk about the Western Conference landscape with the Sharks landing Erik Karlsson in a big time move that makes them instant Cup contenders. 

*Speaking of which, here’s the rundown on Erik Karlsson getting shipped from Ottawa to the San Jose Sharks. It was an expected move given that he wasn’t going to sign with the Sens, and based on the second grade return that Pierre Dorion got for one of the NHL’s elite players. Don’t feel bad, though, Bruins fans. You weren’t ever going to have a chance at Karlsson because there’s no way on this hockey earth that Ottawa was going to send him to a division rival and then watch him tear his old team up on the regular. Instead they shipped him across the country and what they hope is an out of sight, out of mind-type situation. 

*Corey Crawford is on the ice getting some work in during Chicago Blackhawks training camp, but the Hawks goalie won’t be practicing with his teammates to start camp after health issues shut him down last season. 

*Interesting piece on David Tippett helping to put together the pieces for the NHL expansion franchise in Seattle. 

*For something completely different: A question I’ve never asked myself, are Scooters saving cities or destroying them

Morning Skate: Leafs vs. Bruins means Kadri vs. Marchand

Morning Skate: Leafs vs. Bruins means Kadri vs. Marchand

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while mulling over my NHL Awards ballot.

*One would expect there’s going to be a pretty good war of words between Nazem Kadri and Brad Marchand in the upcoming Bruins/Leafs series, and it will get nastier and grittier as the series moves along.

*Max Pacioretty said he’s “fallen in love with” Montreal as another Habs season ends without the playoffs. He may want to get ready for a painful break-up, just in case. It feels like some real changes need to be coming to that organization.  

*Part of the Cinderella story of the Vegas Golden Knights being in the playoffs is the charms of Las Vegas being part of the storyline. Today we bring you: A Marc-Andre Fleury likeness made entirely out of chocolate courtesy of one of the casinos in Vegas.

*Former UMass-Lowell goalie Connor Hellebuyck is not feeling any pressure as the guy at the back end of a loaded Winnipeg team ready for the playoffs.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Kurz does a deep dive on comparing versions of Pete DeBoer’s Sharks teams, and what makes this season different.

*Damien Cox says that team-building in the NHL is being lost in the midst of overnight contenders for the Stanley Cup. Unless I’m mistaken the teams in last year’s Cup Final, Penguins and Predators, were long-term builds with some obvious tweaks both big and small that put them over the top. But I don’t see any real legit Cup contenders that are overnight successes, unless you are talking about the Vegas franchise. But I don’t think they’re a legit contender, so there’s that as well.

*A couple of first-class moves by the Boston Bruins Foundation to support the family and friends of the Humboldt Broncos, who are healing and will be in need of help for a long while after last week’s horrific bus accident.

*For something completely different: Damian Lewis is going to play late, ex-Toronto mayor Rob Ford? Yeah, I just don’t see it.