Towering D-man Zdeno Chara signs 1-day contract to end NHL career with Bruins

Zdeno Chara announced his retirement Tuesday after playing 24 seasons in the NHL and captaining the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 2011.

45-year-old won 2011 Stanley Cup; fellow blue-liner Yandle hangs up skates at 36

Former Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara, who manhandled opposing players for much of his 24 seasons in the NHL, is retiring at age 45. (Elsa/Getty Images/File)

The player the NHL knew as "Big Zee" is calling it a career.

Zdeno Chara signed a one-day contract with the Boston Bruins and announced his retirement Tuesday after 24 seasons in the NHL and captaining Boston to the Stanley Cup in 2011.

The six-foot-nine defenceman from Slovakia is calling it a career at age 45. He returned to TD Garden in Boston to make that announcement two years after splitting with the Bruins following 14 seasons.

He returned to TD Garden to end his professional playing career two years after leaving the Bruins following 14 seasons with the team.

The proclamation printed on his ceremonial final contract spoke to this longevity in the sport.

"You guys want to know what it says?" he asked the assembled crowd after signing. "Zdeno must agree to keep himself in the good shape and physical condition at all times post-retirement."

Chara called returning to the city of his biggest NHL triumphs to mark the end of his time on the ice "surreal."

But he said he's at peace with a decision made mostly to devote more time and energy to the family that has supported him throughout his career.

"I have no regrets. I would not change a thing," Chara said. "We are in a business where we are ultimately judged by winning and we experienced our highs and lows with that. But I walk away knowing I gave it everything I had all the time."

Chara won the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenceman in 2009 and also spent time with the New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals.

Games played record for blue-liners

Known more for his ability to keep the puck out of the net than putting it in, Chara still scored 237 goals and added 523 assists for 760 points in 1,880 regular-season and playoff games.

His 1,680 regular-season games played is a record for a defenceman. Chara also leaves ranked sixth in Bruins history in games played (1,023), and third in points by a defenceman (481), behind Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506) and Bobby Orr (888).

Chara is a candidate for the Hockey Hall of Fame based not only on his consistency but also his stature in the game from Slovakia to North America. He captured two World Championship silver medal-winning teams for his native country, in 2000 and 2010.

The affinity Chara's past Boston teammates and coaches have for him was evident Tuesday with several of them, including Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, Brandon Carlo, Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, Charlie Coyle, Charlie McAvoy and others on hand for his news conference.

Chara was the second European captain to win the Cup, following Swede Nicklas Lidstrom with Detroit. He was one of the faces of a winning era for the Bruins, which also included trips to the final in 2013 and 2019, the latter of which he finished while playing with a broken jaw.

Drafted by the Islanders in the third round in 1996, he played his first four seasons on Long Island before getting traded to the Senators. Boston signing him in 2006 remains one of the most impactful free agency signings in the 17 years of the NHL's salary cap era.

Chara made five of his six all-star game appearances while with the Bruins and was one of the city's most popular athletes during that time. He left in 2020 when the team would not guarantee him a full-time job for the entire season, so he signed a one-year deal with Washington before finishing his playing career with the Islanders.

But he said building a championship culture in Boston, which until 2011 hadn't won a Stanley Cup final since the 1971-72 season in Orr's heyday, was one of the things he treasures most.

"Because without that you cannot win. You need to have a culture. You need to have players that want to follow," Chara said. "And it wasn't just me. It was a team effort. I would have never done it without Patrice. I would have never done it without Brad coming in and following Patrice's lead.

"We had guys stepping in that were willing to come from different teams and adjust to that culture. We pushed each other. We set goals and slowly but surely we were climbing and making the steps.

"It was hard at the beginning," Chara added. "It was not probably easy and not everybody wanted to kind of change. But it was necessary."

NHL ironman Yandle retires at 36

Defenceman Keith Yandle, whose streak of 989 consecutive games played is an NHL record, said Tuesday he is retiring after 16 seasons.

"The last year it's one of those things I've been thinking about," Yandle, 36, said on the "Spittin' Chiclets" podcast. "When that's all you know in your life, to call it quits on it, to call it an end, it's nerve wracking. You're worried about what you're going to do. Especially this time of the year, you're ramping up for training camp.

"The last couple weeks I've been at ease with it. Really enjoyed spending time with the family. ... I think for me I'm really at ease with it and looking forward to the next chapter."

A fourth-round draft pick by the then-Phoenix Coyotes in 2005, Yandle played with the franchise from 2006-15, then with the New York Rangers (2015-16), Florida Panthers (2016-21) and Philadelphia Flyers (2021-22).

It was with the Flyers he set the NHL ironman streak on Jan. 25 against the New York Islanders, breaking Doug Jarvis' record of 964.

Yandle played 25 more games until the streak ended April 2 when the Flyers made him a healthy scratch, preferring to play younger players. In 77 games with the Flyers last season, he tallied one goal and 19 points.

"My only hope is that he just recognizes how amazing it is what he's done," then-Flyers interim head coach Mike Yeo said that day. "For sure, for him it's disappointing, no question. But not many can say they've done something that nobody in the history of the NHL has ever done."

In 1,109 career games, Yandle scored 103 goals and 619 points with 16 game-winning goals.

Yandle's ironman record likely won't last long. Vegas Golden Knights forward Phil Kessel has played in 982 consecutive games.

Leafs add Dairy Farmers of Ontario logo to jerseys

The Toronto Maple Leafs will sport a "Milk" patch on their jersey this season after reaching a partnership with Dairy Farmers of Ontario.

The multi-year agreement comes into effect as the NHL introduces a sweater partner branding program that allows teams to sell advertising on their jerseys beginning this upcoming season.

The patch, featuring the Dairy Farmers of Ontario's longtime logo -- the word "Milk" in a stylized cursive font -- will be added to the upper right of the Leafs' jerseys.

The patch will appear in blue on the Leafs' white road jerseys, with the inverse on their home jerseys.

The Leafs will debut the jerseys Saturday in a pre-season doubleheader against Ottawa.

Toronto is the second Canadian team to add an advertising patch for the upcoming season after the Montreal Canadiens reached an agreement with the Royal Bank of Canada last week.

Blues' Scandella out months after hip surgery

Days before opening training camp, the St. Louis Blues have a hole to fill on their blue-line.

Defenceman Marco Scandella is expected to miss most of the coming NHL season after surgery on his right hip joint. He got injured during off-season training in late August and will be re-evaluated in six months.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong announced the timeline for Scandella's absence Tuesday. The first on-ice sessions of camp are scheduled for Thursday, with the season opener set for Oct. 15.

The injury to Scandella is another change at a position that has undergone a near-complete overhaul since St. Louis won the Stanley Cup in 2019. Only top-pairing defenceman Colton Parayko and veteran grinder Robert Bortuzzo are left from that group, which now features Torey Krug and Justin Faulk in prominent roles.

Scandella, 32, is expected to go on long-term injured reserve, giving the Blues relief for his salary cap hit of $3.275 million US. Nikko Mikkola already figured to take on a full-time role at 26, and it wasn't immediately clear if Armstrong might bring in another veteran to compete for a roster spot.

The injury could provide an opportunity for 24-year-old prospect Scott Perunovich, who played in 26 NHL games last season. Perunovich, who won the Hobey Baker Award as the top college hockey player in the country while at Minnesota-Duluth in 2019-20, impressed teammates during his first year in the pros, especially while running the power play.

Scandella joined the Blues in a trade from the Canadiens before the deadline in 2020. He has played in 755 games with Minnesota, Buffalo, Montreal and St. Louis.

Coyotes sign forward Hayton to new 2-year deal

The Arizona Coyotes have signed forward Barrett Hayton of Peterborough, Ont., to a two-year contract.

The 22-year-old Hayton recorded 10 goals and 14 assists in 60 games with the Coyotes this past season and established NHL career highs in games, goals, assists and points.

The 6-foot-1, 207-pound forward was drafted by the Coyotes in the first round — fifth overall — in the 2018 NHL draft.

"We are very pleased to sign Barrett to a new contract," Coyotes' GM Bill Armstrong said Tuesday. "Barrett is a young, talented, hard-working player who made significant strides last year. We're excited to have him on our roster for this season."

Hayton had two power-play goals and five power-play points this past season, and registered his first career multi-goal/point game with two goals at St. Louis on Nov. 16. He posted a career-high three assists at Detroit on March 8.

Hayton has 13 goals, 18 assists and 34 penalty minutes in 94 career games. As per club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.

With files from Field Level Media & The Canadian Press

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