On March 18, 1977 a future Hockey Hall of Famer was born in Trenčín, Czechoslovakia, his name is Zdeno Chara.
Chara was drafted 56th overall by the New York Islanders in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft from HC Sparta Praha. The defenseman spent his first season in North America with the Prince George Cougars of the Canadian Hockey League, who subsequently selected him in the 1996 CHL Import Draft.
During the 1997-98 season, Chara split time between the Islanders and their American Hockey League affiliate, Kentucky Thoroughblades. He would do the same in 1998-99, this time it was the Lowell Lock Monsters of the AHL. Once he came up in 1999-2000, he was up in the NHL for good.
Chara was traded to the Ottawa Senators during the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. It was the 2001-02 season that really put the Slovak on the map. He would tally 23 points on 10 goals and 13 assists over 75 games for the Senators. The 6-foo-7 defenseman has score 20 or more points in every season, since the 2001-02 season.
Unable to agree on a contract extension, Chara decided to sign with the Boston Bruins. He inked a five-year deal worth $37.5 million and was named team captain. The deal is one the Bruins will be happy with for many years. Since he has donned the blac and gold, he has tallied 43 or more points in every season and has been a leader among the best. He has more recently been extended by the Bruins to a 7-year deal worth $45.5 million, ensuring he will be in Boston for the duration of his career.
Chara had his best year in 2011-12 during the Bruins Stanley Cup season, when he scored 52 points on 12 goals and 40 assists and won the NHL Plus-Minus Award with a +33 rating. His other accomplishments include: six-time all-star, three time all-star captain, James Norris Memorial Trophy winner in 2009, Mark Messier Leadership Award winner in 2011 and is one of only three Slovak-born NHL players to become a team captain.
One of the things Chara is mostly known for, other than is stature, is his slap shot. The defenseman won the Hardest Shot competition at the NHL All-Star Game SuperSkills Competition in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012 where he set a record of 108.8 mph.
Chara is one of the best Bruins in history and hockey fans around the world want to wish him a Happy 36th Birthday!