Defenseman Zdeno Chara is returning to the team he began his legendary 23-year NHL career with. The 44-year-old signed a one-year deal with the New York Islanders, the team announced Friday, with the terms undisclosed.
A seven-time All-Star and 2008-09 Norris Trophy — given to the NHL’s best defenseman — winner, Chara last played for the Islanders during the 2000-2001 season. But while 20 years’ worth of spring cleaning has passed, Chara still hasn’t tossed his old Islanders jerseys. New York justified his decision to keep them by signing him once again.
“I had to get some dust off them,” Chara, an Islanders 1996 third-round pick, wrote about his Islanders jerseys on Instagram, “but sure they still looking good!”
Chara blossomed in Ottawa after the Islanders traded him, making All-Star appearances in two of his four years with the Senators. The Slovakia native then signed with Bruins in 2006, instantly becoming Boston’s captain and holding the position for all 14 of his years with the team. Chara led the Bruins to its sixth ever Stanley Cup win in 2010.
Over his near quarter-century NHL career, Chara has appeared in 1,608 games and scored 666 points (207 goals, 459 assists) for the Islanders, Senators, Bruins and Washington Capitals. Chara spent his lone season with Washington in 2020-21, recording 10 points (two goals, eight assists) over 55 games.
The Chara move looks to be somewhat of an insurance policy for the Islanders, who traded fellow defenseman Nick Leddy to the Detroit Red Wings — in exchange for forward Richard Panick and a second-round pick — in July.
Chara brings a wealth of experience and production back to New York, as he ranks first in plus/minus (+293) and second in games played (1,608) among active NHL players. He also brings size — and a ton of it — as the 6-9, 250-pound Slovakian is the tallest player in NHL history.