Zdeno Chara traveled an interesting path to becoming a Norris Trophy-caliber defenseman with the Boston Bruins.
It was reasonable to wonder if Chara would find a way to grow into his body when he was a struggling young defenseman with the New York Islanders. After two straight -27 seasons in 1999-2000 and 00-01, he was shipped to the Ottawa Senators in a trade that would be retrospectively criticized. It didn’t take him long to become an impact player on a talented (but ultimately disappointing?) Senators team, but the front office faced what seemed like a tough decision at the time. They had two expensive defensemen to choose from and opted for Wade Redden instead of Chara, possibly due to the perception that Chara didn’t come through in the playoffs. Obviously, this was another case in which hindsight wouldn’t be friendly to the team that passed on “Big Z.”
The Bruins were looking for an identity after trading Joe Thornton and found it thanks to a big free agent deal to acquire Chara in 2006. The team has blossomed since, although they’ve fallen victim to some tough losses along the way. The video below spotlights Chara’s highest and lowest points with Boston, although that story will continue in the 2011 playoffs and beyond considering the seven-year contract extension he signed during this season.