At 6'9", Zdeno Chara is the tallest person ever to play in the NHL. Chara was born and raised in Trencin, Slovakia. At the age of 17 he played Junior B hockey with Dukla Trencin. The following year he was picked up by Piestany of Division II in Slovakia while also spending some of his playing time with the national junior team and HC Sparta Praha.
At the age of 19, Chara decided to move to North America, where he still had one year of major junior eligibility remaining. He suited up for the Prince George Cougars of the WHL. In 49 contests, he had three goals and 22 points. Chara wanted to familiarize himself with the North American game and to adjust to the smaller ice surface, having been selected 56th overall by the New York Islanders in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft.
In 1997-98, Chara played 25 games with the New York Islanders, picking up one assist. He followed that with a 59-game effort the next year, scoring two goals and eight points. Chara played two more years on Long Island before being sent to the Ottawa Senators for the start of the 2001-02 season.
Chara credits several of his junior coaches in Slovakia and Stan Butler in Prince George as being the people who were most influential in his development as a player, which has seen him rise all the way to a regular performer in the NHL and to his first NHL All-Star performance in 2003.
In 2003-04, Chara established himself as one of the premier defensemen in the league while setting career highs in goals with 16 and points with 41 and was named runner-up for the Norris Trophy as league's top defenseman. As the following season ended, so did Chara's contract and tenure with the Sens.
July 1, 2006 Zdeno Chara was signed as a free agent by the Boston Bruins and named captain of the club. In his first full season as a Bruin, Chara matched his career-high in points (43) and helped establish a rugged blueline corps in Beantown. The following season he established new career season-highs in goals, assists and points with 17-34-51 totals and was voted a finalist for the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman.
In 2009, not only did Zdeno Chara break Nicklas Lidstrom's strangle-hold on the Norris Trophy, but he joined exclusive company by becoming just the third Bruin, along with Hall of Famers Bobby Orr and Ray Bourque to win the prestigious award as the NHL's top defenseman. The Bruins captain anchored a defense corps that allowed the fewest goals against (2.32) in the league and led his club to a first place finish in the Eastern Conference with 116 points, the third best total in franchise history. Also a 1st Team All-Star, Chara set career-high marks for goals (19), assists (31), points (50) and plus/minus (+23). He would lead the Bruins and finish sixth among all players by averaging just over 26 minutes of ice time per game and was a force on the Bruins power play, recording 11 goals for third best among all NHL defensemen.
In February 2010, Chara was captain of the Slovakian squad at the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
The 2009-10 season was a difficult one for Boston. The team struggled to find the net, ranking dead last in the league for goals scored and Chara saw his offensive production drop to just seven goals for the season.
Chara and the Bruins rebounded in 2010-11, finished the regular season in third place in the Eastern Conference and rode a wave of emotion into the playoffs.
Anchored by Chara on the back end, the Bruins accomplished what no Bruins club had done in almost 40 years when they defeated the Vancouver Canucks to win the Stanley Cup.
Chara would record 17 goals and 23 assists during the 2013-14 season. He would also represent Slovakia once again at the Olympic Games. This time held in Sochi, Russia, Chara would serve as captain and was his nation's flag bearer at the opening ceremony.
In the summer of 2016, Chara would represent Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey. He and his teammates would surprise many by advancing all the way to the tournament final.
Meet the very kind: Zedeno Chara.