Saying he could “walk away from the game with gratitude, honor, and pride,” Zdeno Chara announced his retirement from the NHL after 24 seasons Tuesday with a press conference at TD Garden.
Many of Chara’s former teammates with the Bruins turned out for the announcement, including Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Brandon Carlo, Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, Charlie Coyle, Chris Wagner, Charlie McAvoy, Tuukka Rask, Adam McQuaid, Connor Clifton, and Nick Foligno, as well as the members of the coaching, equipment, and training staffs.
The event began with Chara, 45, signing a one-day contract to officially retire as a member of the Bruins, after which general manager Don Sweeney and CEO Charlie Jacobs exited the stage and took seats in the front row. Chara spent nearly 11 minutes detailing his career and thanking numerous teammates and coaches from his 24-year NHL career, as well as his family.
He had a special message for Boston fans.
“To all the fans, you are such a big part of our game, especially the city of Boston,” said Chara. “I want to thank you for your support, for your passion and love. From all of the things, probably I will miss you the most.”
While he is walking away from the game, Bruins fans can take solace that he will not be going far.
“My family and I are proud to call Boston our home. It’s the team and city that we hold close to our heart,” Chara said to close out his opening remarks.
Soon after he took questions from the media, and Chara said retiring was an easy decision.
“It wasn’t that difficult. I knew before this day, quite earlier than today, but I just waited a little bit and wanted to soak everything in,” said Chara. “We had some conversations with [Bruins president] Cam [Neely] and Don and we were just waiting for the right timing.”
Being able to retire as a Bruin, where he spent 14 years and was the captain for the 2011 Stanley Cup champions, was important to Chara.
“It’s a privilege,” said Chara. “It’s such a huge honor to be part of this organization for so long and to retire as a Boston Bruin it’s a huge amount of honor.”
Then he was asked what was next.
“It’s time to be home with my family,” said Chara, who thanked his wife Tatiana for raising their three children. “The past two years I’ve been away constantly. It was weighing on me way too much.
“I knew that first of all it was time, it was the right time to step away. Having three kids at home and being involved and not miss their birthdays, their special occasions, I knew that was the right decision, and I’m completely happy with it. I have no regrets.”
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