NHL: Zdeno Chara sets NHL record for defenseman, Pekka Rinne statue, and DeBoer goes for 500

zdeno chara
Feb 24, 2022; San Jose, California, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) during the third period against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Islanders’ Zdeno Chara set the NHL record for most games played by a defenseman when he appeared in his 1,652nd game by starting for the visitors against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.

Chara broke the record previously held by Chris Chelios — who played in the NHL from 1984 through 2010 — when teammate Casey Cizikas won the opening faceoff against Tomas Hertl. Chara was the first Islanders player to touch the puck after Cizikas.

Zdeno Chara sets NHL record

Chara, 44, started on the blue line along with Noah Dobson — who was born Jan. 7, 2000, by which point Chara had already played 122 NHL games for the Islanders, who selected him in the third round of the 1996 draft.

“I would like to start by thanking Chris Chelios, he set such a high standard for many of us,” Chara said. “It’s been very inspiring and a huge motivation. I want to thank him for that. A tremendous player and a leader. … I’m very grateful and I’m very lucky to have many, many great teammates, great coaches, and trainers, and support from my wife and children. … I’m very lucky that I get to still play the game.”

The Sharks acknowledged Chara’s achievement during the game’s first stoppage 8:56 into the first. The team displayed an image of Chara with images of the defenseman playing with the Islanders during his first stint with the club as well as other three teams — the Ottawa Senators, Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals.

The hosts also aired a congratulatory video from former San Jose star Patrick Marleau, who played in an NHL-record 1,779 games.

Chara, seated on the Islanders’ bench between Dobson and fellow defenseman Ryan Pulock, watched the tributes before standing up, smiling and waving to the crowd.

Pekka Rinne jersey retired, statue planned

pekka rinne
Feb 24, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Former Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne (35) watches as his number 35 is raised to the rafters in a jersey retirement ceremony before the Nashville Predators game against the Dallas Stars at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Pekka Rinne became the first player in Nashville Predators history to have his number retired on Thursday night.

The organization retired Rinne’s No. 35 during a pregame ceremony before the Predators hosted the Dallas Stars. Rinne watched from the ice as a banner was lifted to the rafters displaying his name and number.

“I had time to sit down with them and spend a few minutes with the guys… and they still consider me one of them,” Rinne said. “That means the world to me. I mean, teammates, that’s your family. It means a lot to me. I don’t think I’m at my comfort level when it’s about me, but in saying that, I realize that it’s a once in a lifetime thing, and I’m going to take it all in. I’m extremely proud of it.”

The Predators also announced plans for a bronze statue of Rinne to be placed outside of Bridgestone Arena, where he played for all 15 of his NHL seasons.

Rinne announced his retirement last summer after appearing in his final game May 10 against the Carolina Hurricanes. He went 369-213-75 with a 2.43 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in 683 games (666 starts) from the 2005-06 season through 2020-21.

Rinne is tied for 19th among all NHL goalies with 369 victories. He is a three-time All-Star and won the Vezina Trophy at the end of the 2017-18 season.

The Finland native also started 89 playoff games for Nashville. He went 45-44 with a 2.49 GAA and a .914 save percentage in the postseason, which included a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017, when the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Predators in a six-game series.

Pete DeBoer goes for coaching win 500

Peter DeBoer will try for his 500th NHL coaching victory on Friday night when his Vegas Golden Knights face the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale, Ariz.

DeBoer is 499-366-119 in 15 seasons with the Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils, San Jose Sharks and Golden Knights. He has coached the Devils (2012) and Sharks (2016) to the Stanley Cup Final.

“It’s not something you really track or pay a lot of attention to,” the 53-year-old DeBoer said when asked about reaching the milestone. “When it was brought to my attention that I was getting close, you start to think about it. You realize how quickly it’s gone, how fortunate I’ve been, (the) great people that I’ve got to work with and players I’ve got to coach, and particularly my family and what they’ve had to put up with as a pro coach — moving city to city and packing up and buying new houses, closing up old ones and changing schools.

“It’s been quite a journey.”

–Field Level Media