Saturday night will be a special one for Boston captain Zdeno Chara when the Bruins take on the Kings in Los Angeles.
The 35-year-old rearguard will become just the 277th player in NHL history to play 1,000 games and the 13th to accomplish the feat this season.
While Chara spent the early parts of his career with both the Islanders and Senators, he’s come into his own as a member of the Bruins. Since signing with Boston out of the lockout he’s won a Stanley Cup, Norris Trophy, Mark Messier Leadership Award, Plus-Minus Award and three All-NHL team spots.
“Obviously it’s a milestone,” Chara told the Boston Globe. “When you think about 1,000 games, you’ve got to be averaging, what, like 70-75 games for 14 or 15 years to do that, right?
“I don’t think anyone playing their first game thinks ahead to 500, 800, or 1,000 games. That’s just so far away. But when you get down to five more to go, 10 more to go, sure, you can’t help but think, it’s a lot of games, a long time.”
Given he’s only 35 and armed with a seven-year deal that runs through 2018, it’s possible Chara could enter the rarefied air of 1500 or more games played. Only 13 players in NHL history have accomplished the feat and only four — Mark Recchi, Dave Andreychuk, Ray Bourque and Johnny Bucyk — played for the Bruins.
Chara’s got a good shot at being No. 5. He’s durable (only missed 12 games since the lockout), remarkably fit (see: 2009 ESPN Magazine Body Issue) and loves playing the game.
He also has a few tricks on how to maintain his high level of success.
“Just try to get better every year,’’ Chara said. “Never get satisfied with what you’ve done the previous season. That’s been my approach from the start, and it still is.
“Keep all my routines the same, for day of game, day after the game. I’ve followed that for 15 years, never changed. And the trick is to do that and not get tired of it.
“And you know what? I don’t. I still loving doing it, and I still love my job.’’