Zdeno Chara gets long-awaited recognition among NHL greats


The recognition of Zdeno Chara in the wake of 44-year-old Chris Chelios, who broke the NHL record for games played by a defenseman, when he hit the 1,652 mark Thursday in San Jose, is more than deserved. , as it has long been my contention that Big Z was one of the most overlooked forces of its time.

Only one Norris Trophy, in 2008-09, for the player against whom the teams planned the game night after night. Never a result higher than eighth in Hart Trophy balloting, also in 2008-09, for a defender against whom opponents simply would not fall on his side. He was like a cornerback so dominant his man was never targeted.

When Rick Nash lined up left for the Rangers, Chara moved to the right. When Nash moved right, Chara moved left. There was no escape.

The best free agent signing in NHL history by Boston in 2006, Chara should have several Norris trophies to place on his coat. Being usually overlooked for the Hart is a function of his position that I don’t quite understand.

Somehow Chris Pronger in 2000 is the only defender to be named MVP since Bobby Orr’s three-year run from 1970 to 1972. That doesn’t make sense, especially when the best League defenders are often in contention for up to 27 or 28 minutes per night while forwards are usually in the 20 minute range.

Zdeno Chara
Zdeno Chara broke the record for most games played by a defender.
NHLI via Getty Images
Zdeno Chara
Zdeno Chara led the Bruins to the 2011 Stanley Cup.
Reuters

Raymond Bourque never won from Hart, and neither did Larry Robinson, in times when elite defenders regularly played more than 30 minutes a game. Brian Leetch finished in the top 10 in the poll once and went without a vote in 1993-94. Nick Lidstrom, widely regarded as the best defenseman of his time as evidenced by his seven Norris Trophies, did not get a Hart vote in his Norris-winning 2001-02 season in which he averaged 28 :49 for a Stanley Cup winning team.

This year, with the usual suspects Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and Sidney Crosby being the main contenders for the Hart, Igor Shesterkin crashed the party. But Cale Makar, the defenseman who really makes the Avalanche different, should be among the top crowd.

Of course, Patrice Bergeron is a special case. But Chara was the backbone of Boston’s notoriety in the 2010s and a connection to his intimidating Big Bad Bruins era. It’s good to see this strength getting its due.


What a surprise, Alex Ovechkin using the term “both sides”, while addressing his thoughts on the Russian invasion of Ukraine during which he was almost spoon-fed the phrase: “Please, no more war”.

Alex Ovechkin (right) has long had ties with Vladimir Putin (left).
Alex Ovechkin (right) has long had ties with Vladimir Putin (left).
AFP/Getty Images

It was a fitting line of questioning for Ovechkin, who for years has announced his loyalty to his native dictator and whose Instagram profile picture as recently as Saturday showed No 8 and Vladimir Putin standing side by side. coast and smiling.

And although every citizen of any country has the right to express an opinion on the matter, it is not necessary to interview every Russian hockey player. If that were the case, there would also be an obligation to ask every American player what he thinks of Donald Trump’s praise of Putin and to ask every Canadian his point of view on the convoy of truckers. And maybe ask Swedes how they think their country has responded to the pandemic.

While several agents have told us that their North American and non-Russian European clients are looking to leave the KHL immediately, the IIHF has a decision to make regarding Team Russia’s entry into the now rescheduled 2022 World Juniors. scheduled for August. in Red Deer and Edmonton following the Omicron-related winter postponement.

Of course, no organization within the international hockey community seemed to have hesitated to travel to Beijing, so there is no reason to expect too much from the IIHF in this regard.


Two decades later, it still remains untreatable.

But with Mike Milbury running the Islanders’ show β€” and under Charles Wang’s ownership he ran things like a side show, to be more precise β€” in successive June in the 2000 and 2001 drafts, the team ended up trade Roberto Luongo, Olli Jokinen, Chara, either Marian Gaborik or Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza in exchange for Rick DiPietro, Alexei Yashin and Mark Parrish.

Mike Milbury (left) and Charles Wang (right) introduce Rick DiPietro (middle).
Mike Milbury (left) and Charles Wang (right) introduce Rick DiPietro (middle).
New York Post

Taken individually, these offerings are mind-numbing enough. Trade 21-year-old Luongo to clear the net for DiPietro, who was selected first overall in 2000 when Gaborik and Heatley were on the board? Swap Chara, 24, and the second overall selection in 2001, who became Spezza, for Yashin, 27, who played five seasons on the island before being bought out? Madness.

Collectively, there has never been anything like it.


Question: Which of Nashville forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen, each making way more than their worth at an average annual value of $8 million, has been the most egregious career underperformer?

Fool you once, shame on David Poile. Fool you twice, shame on you, which would apply to any GM seriously hiring the Predators GM over Filip Forsberg, the top-echelon pending free agent winger, who has been teased as rental property available.

David Hairy
David Hairy
NHLI via Getty Images

Poile did it last year for months with Mattias Ekholm. Rangers, we learned after the fact, were hot on the track. Until Poile pulled the plug and signed the Swede for an extension which starts next year.

Buyer beware.


I have Colin Miller, the 29-year-old right-hander whose contract expires with Buffalo, who played two seasons in Vegas for Gerard Gallant, as a possible acquisition deep on the Blueshirts’ blue line.

We’re told Hartford’s 20-year-old right-handed defenseman Hunter Skinner, the 112th draft pick in 2019, is generating some interest as teams explore the Rangers pipeline beyond Nils Lundkvist, Zac Jones, Brennan Othmann, Matt Robertson and Will Cuyle.


It’s hard to believe that an Avalanche team that would otherwise be the clear favorite to win the Cup would hand goaltending to Darcy Kuemper.

Is the bar to be crossed for the Maple Leafs to win four playoff games or rather 16? If the latter, good luck with Jack Campbell in net. Perhaps that applies to the former as well, and certainly if he ends up in a first-round game with the Lightning.


And I’m just asking, has anyone ever seen “Chicago Fire” Lt. Kelly Severide in the same room at the same time as Eric Lindros?


Finally, I don’t believe there’s a player in the league who shows less respect for his opponents than PK Subban, who ends his time in New Jersey as an unrepentant threat.

New York Post

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