If this is it for Zdeno Chara, he deserves a hero’s exit

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Let me start by saying this, as a Blackhawks fan I fucking hate the Boston Bruins and everything they stand for. With that being said, Zdeno Chara gets a pass.

Growing up in the generation that played the NHL video game on the PS2 everyday after school, I always wanted to play as the Bruins. Why? Because you could literally just tee up slap shots from the blue line with Chara and you were bound to find the back of the net. While that might not be the most accurate portrayal of Chara’s game, he does have the nastiest slap shot in NHL history.

When Victor Hedman’s snap shot found the back of the net in double-overtime last night, I immediately looked for Chara on my television screen. The 43-year-old captain had just been eliminated from his 13th postseason appearance with the Bruins. He’s set to be a free agent this Fall, and while he hasn’t yet announced plans to retire, there is serious doubt whether Boston will be interested in keeping him around.

As the Lightning celebrated on the ice, Chara was in a familiar spot. At his net consoling his goalie and the rest of his hurting teammates after the loss. That’s the kind of player and captain Chara is, and has always been. It’s never about him, it’s about his team. Doc Emrick (being the pro’s pro he is) summed it up perfectly as Chara was making his way down the handshake line.

Sure, Chara was known for giving a dirty hit from time to time, but I never put him on the same level of scum as Marchand or some of the other Bruins. Chara’s legend was different, and he always seemed to carry himself differently than the rest of the team. He’s the ultimate gamer.

If this is it for Chara, the list of accomplishments is jaw-dropping. He’s a six time All-star, NHL All-Decade second teamer (2010-19), James Norris Trophy winner and Stanley Cup champion. He also became the oldest player in NHL history to score a goal in the Stanley Cup Finals last year. Chara isn’t just a Boston legend, but an NHL legend and an icon.

Call me overly nostalgic if you want, but it would be hard to adjust to a NHL where #33 isn’t on the ice for the Bruins.

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