At 6 feet 9 inches, Zdeno Chara cuts an imposing figure on the ice.
Now, try to picture the Boston Bruins captain hosting an open house at a Charlestown condo, showing off the granite countertops and the Sub-Zero fridge. Good luck talking this guy down on the price.
The towering defenseman has been issued his license to sell real estate in Massachusetts.
Chara enrolled in a real estate program shortly after tearing a ligament in his left knee on Oct. 23. He said he wanted to use his time off the ice to expand his post-hockey options. The Slovakia native took the required classes, passed the exam during the NHL’s All-Star break last month, and received his license the same day.
“I like to keep as many doors open as possible for the future,” Chara said. “I just felt that while I was obviously not traveling as much with the team, I had so much time, especially early into my rehab, I decided to take some courses, and I ended up going for the [exam].”
But don’t expect to see a “Sell with Chara” sign on the side of a bus anytime soon.
Chara, who turns 38 in March and is signed with the Bruins for three more seasons, said he doesn’t necessarily envision a second career as a full-time real estate agent, but doesn’t rule out the possibility. “It’s something that’s very useful with what’s going on with the market,” Chara said of his license.
This isn’t the first time Chara, who is fluent in at least six languages, has picked up the books in the middle of the season. He took financial-planning classes at Algonquin College in Ottawa from 2001 through 2005 while playing for the Ottawa Senators. Chara said he and his wife, Tatiana, place a high value on education.
“We have so much free time while we travel on buses and airplanes, and I just don’t want to spend all the time just playing games or watching movies or playing cards,” he said of the team’s time on the road.
Getting this type of license can be a first step in a real estate career. The license will allow Chara to buy and sell properties on behalf of a client, but only when affiliated with a broker. He would need three years in the business — and another test — before he could get his own broker’s license.
Chara is being paid $7 million this season with the Bruins. His earnings will probably shrink once he retires from hockey, of course.
But million-dollar incomes are possible in the real estate field, as well, particularly in a place like Greater Boston that’s packed with luxury homes, should he decide to stay in the area and trade on his brand.
“Obviously, a big part of the business is name recognition and having people who want to work with you,” said Charlie Ball, founding partner at Century 21 Commonwealth in Somerville.
Brokers say Chara wouldn’t have to stop skating to make some money. Now that he has his license, he could refer people from his professional network to a broker with little effort, and take a piece of that broker’s commission, said David McCarthy, president of the Greater Boston Association of Realtors.
“I’m sure there are a lot of brokers that would be happy to have him affiliated with their firm,” McCarthy said. Chara said he doesn’t have a formal relationship with a broker.
Real estate can also make sense as a potential second act for athletes. It’s a trade that rewards hard work, competitiveness, and a deep Rolodex.
“If he doesn’t want to go work at NESN on TV, real estate is a pretty good second option,” said Michael DiMella, managing partner at Charlesgate Realty in Boston.
Among the most famous examples: Basketball star Magic Johnson became a real estate investor, among his other business ventures, and former NFL quarterback Roger Staubach is now executive chairman at brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle.
For Scott Dragos, real estate was a natural next step after he finished his NFL career with the New England Patriots in 2002.
After more than a decade of rising up the ranks in the field, Dragos joined the Boston office of commercial brokerage Colliers International a year ago.
He said he admires pro athletes like Chara who carve out time for internships, classes, or licensing exams.
“That speaks volumes about their character and work ethic,” he said. “You can’t play sports forever.”