It's pretty safe to say that without the Zdeno Chara years back, the Bruins would not be 2011-12 Stanley Cup Champions, and they wouldn't be in the running for another Cup this year.
Chara is the backbone of the B's, the captain, and the player perhaps most feared and respected in the NHL. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli saw what Chara had to offer early on in his career, and made sure that when he made his way to Boston, Chara wasn't far behind.
"Z (Chara) is a guy that I've known for a long time," Chiarelli said told CSNNE's Kevin Walsh. "When I worked in Ottawa we acquired him in a trade. And you could see the commitment, you could see the passion of this player, and he was coveted by all teams. To know that he was there, it's a franchise building block is what Z is. And of course his captainship and how he's grown into that has been impressive to watch."
It certainly has been impressive. By all accounts, Chara is not only an amazing hockey player, but an amazing teammate off the ice as well. He leads by example, and with a Bruins team following his lead, it's no wonder they've found success.
And with Chara, it's not all about "stats".
"What's really remarkable about Z is that the impact he has on a game isn't always plain to see," Chiarellie said. "I mean, you have to look at how he affects the opposing players over the course of a game, and how he tired them out. And how even going into a game teams make their game plans around avoiding him, whether it's their dunks, it's their forecheck. And if you talk to players, like impact players on other teams they talk about Z they always start it with a heavy sigh because they know they have to face-off against this guy."