On Thursday, Washington Capitals defenseman Zdeno Chara spoke to the media following morning skate ahead of tonight’s tilt against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington). He discussed returning to the ice today, his approaching milestone of 1,600 career games, and the longevity of playing in the league.
Chara said he feels “good enough” to play in tonight’s game. He missed Sunday’s 6-3 loss to the Boston Bruins after taking a blocked shot to the foot. “Obviously it’s not the greatest feeling in the world, but pain is temporary. I just try to focus on keeping the puck out of our net.”
“All these teams we’re going to play are playoff teams,” Chara said on playing the Islanders for the next three straight games and the homestretch of the 2020-21 season. “It’s going to be a good challenge for us… definitely something that we want to make sure that we are sharp finishing the season with a good mindset and good energy level.”
“Team success is always first,” he said, adding that he wants to “help the team wherever I can.” Chara is looking forward to continuing the production and contribution to Washington saying, “We are not done. There’s [a lot of] work to do.”
Chara said he likes “to be in the present” and “not jump the gun” regarding his upcoming milestone: 1,600 career games. The 44-year-old blueliner is two games away. “There’s obviously a lot of factors that play in the longevity in the NHL…I’ve been very fortunate, but at this time, I’m not there yet.
Before coming to D.C., he played for three other clubs: the Islanders (1997-2001), the Ottawa Senators (2001-2006), and most notably the Bruins (2006-2020). The Islanders selected him in the third round as the fourth pick (56th overall) in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft in St. Louis. “I really appreciate that the Islanders took a chance at me,” Chara said. He reiterated how “lucky” he has been learning and developing with the organization in his early career.
Chara said, “I was kind of a guy who wasn’t supposed to make it first and foremost…I was cut by many teams [at a] very young age.” That was “motivation” for him. “I was always disciplined and driven…I just really enjoy the whole process.
He also said it’s “nice to reach milestones”, but “it’s a short moment of celebration and enjoyment.” “The process to get to the milestones takes time, years, days, away from family, but I love everything about the sport,” Chara said.
All these teams we’re going to play are playoff teams. It’s going to be a good challenge for us … definitely something that we want to make sure that we are sharp finishing the season with a good mindset and good energy level.” – Zdeno Chara#CapsIsles | @MedStarHealth pic.twitter.com/sg2ZtCwYba
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 22, 2021
By Della Young