When Zdeno Chara made his NHL debut in 1997, Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy hadn’t been born yet. Patrice Bergeron, who was drafted in 2003 and is the longest tenured Bruin, was just 12 years old.
But to the 42-year-old Boston captain, age is only a number when it comes to how he treats his teammates. To him, each player is equally important and equally respected, no matter the amount of experience.
“Age doesn’t separate the conversations or personalities,” Chara told the media on Monday. “I’ve been saying that for a long time. We are treating everyone the same way no matter if they’re 18 or 40, if someone has 1,000 games or are playing in their first game.
“From a young age, I didn’t like the separation between old and young players. I don’t like to use the word rookie. They’re our teammate. I just don’t like to separate — I don’t think that’s the right thing to do.”
Still, as the oldest member of a team headed to its first Stanley Cup Final is six years, Chara embraces imparting wisdom upon his younger teammates. He’s ready and willing to let them know what to expect on the biggest stage.
“You have to realize how special it is to be in the Finals and what it takes. At the same time, you haven’t accomplished anything or won anything,” he said. “You have to make sure you stay the course, stay focused, and stay committed to what’s ahead of you.”
“[The younger players are] becoming a big part of our team and I wish them a long, long successful career. If I can make a small part of it by doing what I love to do, and do it every day, if that helps them, I’d love to.”