Possession over punishing hits: How Zdeno Chara & Boston’s D corps are adjusting to today’s NHL

Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Zdeno Chara is always looking to stay ahead of the curve. 

Going into his 14th season as Bruins captain, and 22nd campaign of a Hall-of-Fame career, Chara’s expectations are to remain entrenched in his usual role with Boston — log minutes in a top-pairing role, anchor the penalty kill and serve as mentor to a large crop of younger blue liners. 

Chara’s efforts to remain competitive and effective in a league that continues to get younger and younger have been well-documented. The 42-year-old skater is a workout machine, who has adopted a plant-based diet over the last couple of years in order to keep his body in peak condition to deal with the wear and tear that comes with six to eight months of NHL hockey. 

But a large portion of remaining viable in today’s game also revolves around adapting to a sport that has continued to favor puck possession and skill over punishing open-ice hits and snarl in recent years.