Zdeno Chara will become the 21st player in NHL history to play 1,500 regular-season games when he takes the ice for the Boston Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN2, RDS, NHL.TV).
The 42-year-old defenseman is the NHL’s oldest player; at 6-foot-9, he’s also the tallest player in League history. The native of Trencin, Slovakia, is a seven-time First-or-Second Team All-Star and was captain of the Bruins when they ended their 39-year Stanley Cup drought in 2011.
Here is a timeline of Chara’s career highlights:
June 22, 1996 – Chara, a 19-year-old defenseman playing for Dukla Trencin in Slovakia, is selected by the New York Islanders in the third round (No. 56) of the 1996 NHL Draft at Kiel Center in St. Louis. He moves to North America and plays the 1996-97 season with Prince George of the Western Hockey League.
Nov. 19, 1997 – After starting the 1997-98 season with Kentucky of the American Hockey League, Chara is called up by the Islanders and makes his NHL debut in a 3-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. He plays 25 games during three stints with the Islanders, earning his first NHL point when he gets an assist against the New York Rangers on April 15, 1998.
Jan. 29, 1999 – Chara begins the 1998-99 season with Lowell of the AHL but is recalled by the Islanders in late November, this time for good. He scores his first NHL goal and has an assist for his first multipoint game in a 4-4 tie against the Phoenix Coyotes. Chara averages 18:54 of ice time in 59 games for New York, finishing with eight points (two goals, six assists).
June 23, 2001 – After mainly playing a defensive role in three full seasons with New York, Chara is part of the package sent by the Islanders to the Ottawa Senators in a trade for center Alexei Yashin. He blossoms into a top two-way defenseman with the Senators, finishing with NHL career highs in goals (10), assists (13) and points (23). He also makes his first appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, helping Ottawa reach the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Feb. 2, 2003 – Chara makes his first appearance in the NHL All-Star Game when he plays for the Eastern Conference at Office Depot Center (now BB&T Center) in Sunrise, Florida. Chara finishes second to winner Al MacInnis in the Hardest Shot event at the Skills Competition on the night before the game but doesn’t get a point in the Western Conference’s 6-5 shootout win.
June 10, 2004 – Though he finishes second to Scott Niedermayer of the New Jersey Devils in voting for the Norris Trophy, given to the NHL’s best defenseman, Chara is selected as an NHL First-Team All-Star for the first time. The recognition comes after he sets NHL career highs in goals (16) and points (41).
July 1, 2006 – Chara becomes an unrestricted free agent after a 16-goal, 43-point season when the Senators opt to keep defenseman Wade Redden. He signs a five-year contract with the Bruins and is quickly named captain. Chara is the third Slovak-born captain in NHL history, after Stan Mikita of the Chicago Blackhawks and Peter Stastny of the Quebec Nordiques.
Jan. 24, 2007 – In his second NHL All-Star Game appearance, Chara scores two goals for the Eastern Conference in a 12-9 loss to the Western Conference at American Airlines Center in Dallas. However, he does win the Hardest Shot event at the Skills Competition when his slap shot is clocked at 100.4 mph.
Jan. 25, 2009 – Chara is selected to the NHL All-Star Game for the fourth time, but the first as a starter. He wins the Hardest Shot competition for the third straight year, setting a record with a shot clocked at 105.4 mph.
June 18, 2009 – A 19-goal, 50-point season that helps the Bruins win the Northeast Division and finish first in the Eastern Conference earns Chara the Norris Trophy and a berth on the NHL First All-Star team.
Oct. 9, 2010 – The Bruins lock up Chara with a seven-year contract extension.
Jan. 17, 2011 – Chara achieves a personal milestone rarely accomplished by a defenseman when he scores three goals for the first hat trick of his NHL career in a 7-0 win against the Carolina Hurricanes. Less than two weeks later, he defeats Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators in the final of the Hardest Shot competition at NHL All-Star Weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina, with a shot clocked at 105.9 mph, eclipsing his own record.
June 15, 2011 – The Bruins win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1972 by defeating the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 in Game 7 of the Final at Rogers Arena. Chara becomes the second player born in Europe, and the first born in Slovakia, to serve as captain of a Cup-winning team.
Jan. 29, 2012 – Chara is one of two team captains for the 2012 NHL All-Star Game at Scotiabank Place (now Canadian Tire Centre) in Ottawa. Team Chara defeats Team Alfredsson 12-9 one night after Chara wins the Hardest Shot at the NHL All-Star Skills competition for the fifth straight time with a record 108.8 mph.
March 24, 2012 – The Bruins defeat the Los Angeles Kings 4-2 at Staples Center in Chara’s 1,000th NHL game. Chara saves the win in the final two minutes by blocking a shot that appeared to be headed into an open net for a game-tying goal. “I wanted to win this and no question I wanted to remember this game as a win,” he says.
June 24, 2014 – Chara finishes second to Duncan Keith of the Blackhawks in voting for the Norris Trophy but is selected as a First-Team All-Star for the third time in his career. The honor comes after he finishes with 17 goals, the most he’s scored in a season since 2008-09, and 40 points in 77 games.
March 28, 2018 – The Bruins sign Chara to a one-year, $5 million contract for the 2018-19 season. It comes less than two months after he becomes the 39th player to skate in his 1,400th NHL game.
March 23, 2019 – Chara starts his day by signing a one-year, $2 million contract with the Bruins for the 2019-20 season and ends it by becoming the 22nd defenseman in NHL history to score his 200th goal. The milestone goal, a wrist shot from the high slot, helps the Bruins defeat the Florida Panthers 7-3 at TD Garden to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
June 9, 2019 – Chara becomes the oldest defenseman to score a goal in the Stanley Cup Final when he hits the empty net during Boston’s 5-1 victory against the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center in Game 6. The 42-year-old finishes the playoffs with six points (two goals, four assists) in 23 games, although the Blues defeat the Bruins in Game 7 to deny Boston the Cup.