Hockey fans love a tall tale, so discussing Zdeno Chara is a sure winner. Chara is the tallest hockey player to ever play in the NHL, and his height, combined with his talent, can be intimidating, particularly to shorter players. Since everyone in the NHL is shorter than Chara, they’ve had to learn ways to cope with this giant on ice.
At 6’9″, Chara, the team captain of the Boston Bruins, has been a top defenseman since joining the league in 1997. Although he turned 40 this year, he still spends a significant amount of time on the ice, so endurance and toughness are two of his strengths. He is also a good teacher, according to Brandon Carlo, the young defenseman paired with Chara the last two seasons.
Chara’s height means he uses a long stick. He is able to break up many plays with his extraordinary reach as well as stop shots on goal when necessary. He has owned the record for the hardest shot (108.8 mph) since 2012. Since he is such a big, strong opponent, smaller players simply cannot take him on directly and expect to out-muscle him.
Chara’s height is also the reason for his greatest weakness. He is not a great skater and is often somewhat awkward on the ice. He also isn’t very fast. Smaller players with strong skating skills and quickness can beat him to the puck and, sometimes, avoid the power of that long stick.
Most in the league still consider Chara to be formidable, but he can be turned around by a smaller faster player. Recently, Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich, 6’2″, made Chara look helpless as he scored a goal.
Perhaps Chara’s most interesting opponent was Nathan Gerbe, former Sabre center who stands 5’5″ tall. In one memorable 2011 game, he scored a goal and survived a shoving match with Chara, showing that quickness can get the best of a hockey legend.
Zdeno Chara still puts fear into the hearts of his opponents, but he is occasionally vulnerable to smaller and faster hockey players.
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