If the Blackhawks plan to turn around their franchise culture, it starts with the players on the ice. Zdeno Chara has always been viewed as one of the best leaders in the NHL, and has yet to announce his retirement yet. Known as “Big Z”, the 45 year old from Slovakia stands out due to his 6’9, 250 pound stature. With 1680 games of NHL experience, Chara is likely a hall of fame lock when he finally decides to call it a career.
Chara played for the Prince George Cougars of the WHL in the 1996-97 season with 22 points in 49 games. For his U20 years, he played in Slovakia where he was a standout for his physical play, his obvious size and his shot, which for some time was the hardest shot ever. Chara was drafted in the 3rd round of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islanders, who he proceeded to play for until the 2001-02 season when he joined the Ottawa Senators. Chara spent a majority of his career with the Bruins, where he was the captain and won multiple Stanley Cups.
That Stanley Cup winning leadership and experience could be just what the Blackhawks need in a guy that will only sign a one year deal worth league minimum at $750,000. Although not the player he once was, Chara still has value. As a third pairing/7th D man that provides leadership for young guys and everyone around him that likely feeds off his energy, he could be a solid pickup for the Blackhawks.
It’s not a secret that the Hawks don’t have the strongest D core in the NHL. It’s also no secret that the team is expected to fully embrace a rebuild, so signing a guy like Chara who just wants to play the game, would keep the younger guys dialed in and focused during the hard times.