When then-Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chára lifted the Stanley Cup over his head following a thrilling seven-game 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, it was undoubtably the highest the famed chalice had ever been raised by one player.
We're nearly ten years later, and Chára is still plying his trade in the NHL at an exceptionally high level. And tonight will mark a special personal milestone for the towering 6'9 defenseman.
He's skating in his 1,600th career NHL game, becoming the 5th defenseman in NHL history to accomplish the feat, and now only trails fellow Boston Bruins legend Raymond Bourque by a mere 12 games on the NHL games played ladder.
At 44 years of age, Chára is currently the oldest active NHL player.
He was drafted 44th overall by the New York Islanders in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, and would make his NHL debut during the 1997-98 season. It wasn't long before he found himself on his way to the capitol city of Canada, being dealt to the Ottawa Senators as part of a deal to acquire forward Bill Muckalt.
The 2002-03 season saw Chára appear in his first NHL All-Star game; he'd later help the Senators to within one win of a berth in the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals.
Chára would take his talents to Boston, signing a five-year contract with the Bruins on the first day of free-agency in 2006, and was immediately named team captain. He earned his first Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman for the 2008-09 season, beating out the legendary Nicklas Lidstrom for the honor.
Of course, Chára would captain the Bruins to the 2011 Stanley Cup title, their first championship since 1972. He'd enjoy several more years of success with Boston, helping them to two additional Stanley Cup Finals berths (2013, 2019); the latter of which he played with several fractures in his jaw following his taking a deflected puck to the face.
This season, his 23rd in the NHL, saw him don a new sweater for the first time since the 2006-07 season, signing a one-year deal with the Washington Capitals. In 46 games played in his first season in D.C., he's registered two goals with seven assists along with a plus-8 rating.