It happens with almost every great defenseman: mistakes are made considering the substantial ice time and challenges they face and those gaffes are often magnified when there’s a narrative at the ready. So it goes with Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara: as he gets older, any mistake or rough series serves as a catalyst for questions about a decline.
Really, though, it’s actually somewhat difficult to state empirically that Chara is already on the downside of his career.
Yes, he’s 37, but his possession stats remain strong even amid tough assignments and he was a deserving finalist for the 2014 Norris Trophy. Changes to his ice time have been subtle, at least in the last couple seasons. In the grand scheme of things, most critiques about his ability to maintain elite form are anecdotal.
Still, there’s one thing that’s not really up for debate: as the largest specimen to ever play dominant NHL hockey, he probably has to really work hard to stay mobile enough to thrive in a game that gets faster every year.
Luckily, Chara recognizes that. He told CSNNE.com that he’s emphasizing footwork, quickness, speed and agility in his offseason training.
“It’s no secret that for a big guy of my size you always have to work on the quickness,” Chara said on Monday. “You have to try to always be on top of that, and your footwork. It’s not so much about being strong as it is also being quick.”
Chara is a renowned fitness freak, so if anyone can keep things going despite seemingly improbable size and the natural decline that comes with age, it’s someone who almost seems to defy logic like “The Big Z.”
Even as they bring along promising young defensemen, the Bruins are still banking on Chara remaining among the best in the game.