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NHL: Retirement for decorated NHL defencemen

Two of the most decorated defencemen and biggest personalities retired from the NHL on Tuesday.

Zdeno Chara, 45, will hang up his huge skates after 24-years in the league and 33-year-old P.K. Subban following a 13-year stay.

Record holder

Chara retires holding the record for most regular season games played by a defenceman in NHL history (1,680) during which he amassed 680 points (209 goals, 471 assists) and a plus-301 rating for the New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals.

The Slovakian appeared in 200 Stanley Cup Playoff games with 70 points (18 goals, 52 assists). His career highlight came in 2010/11 when he led the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup since 1972.

Made Boston home

Known as "Big Z," the 6'9" imposing blue-liner was selected by the Islanders in the third-round (56th overall) of the 1996 NHL Draft.

Chara played several seasons in New York and Ottawa before moving to Boston which he made home.

He was Captain for all 14 of his years with the Bruins (2006-2020), helping them qualify for the playoffs 11 times with three Final appearances.

Chara ranks sixth in Bruins' history for games played (1,023) and third in points by a defenseman (481).

In 2008/09 he won the James Memorial Trophy as the NHL's best defenceman after scoring 50 points including an NHL career-high 19 goals. In Boston's Stanley Cup championship campaign of 2011, he was awarded the Mark Messier NHL leadership award and led the NHL in plus-minus (plus-33) and playoffs with plus-16.

In a touching retirement message on social media, Chara confirmed that he would sign a one-day contract with Boston to retire a Bruin, a franchise which clearly meant a lot to him.

Leaving Boston

His long stay with the Bruins ended in 2020 and he went on to play a single season with the Washington Capitals before going full circle back to where it all started with the Islanders.

Chara ended his proud NHL career by scoring his second goal of the season at 19.16 of the third period in defeat to the Tampa Bay Lightning at UBS Arena in Elmont, New York, on 29th April.

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Burst onto NHL scene

P.K. Subban exploded onto the NHL scene in 2010 scoring 38 points (14 goals, 24 assists) from the blue-line in his rookie season.

Stating in his retirement announcement that he didn't think of himself as "just a hockey player" but "a person who just happened to play hockey”, he brought a big personality rarely seen to the game.

He explained: "Having that perspective allowed me to celebrate every goal with emotion and play every game as if someone paid to watch me play who had never seen me play before."

And that he did, evidently enjoying every minute of his 834 regular season games with the Canadiens, Nashville Predators and New Jersey Devils, celebrating each of his 115 goals and 352 assists (467 points) as if it were his last.

His last goal came on 22nd March against the New York Rangers and final game played on 29th April against the Detroit Red Wings.

Playoff performer

The 33-year-old also produced well in the playoffs, posting 62 points (18 goals, 44 assists) in 96 appearances.

His furthest run came in 2016/17 when he scored 12 points (two goals, ten assists) helping the Predators reach their first ever Final where they were beaten in six games by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Subban won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenceman in 2013, is a three-time NHL All-Star and won the 2022 King Clancy Memorial Trophy, awarded to the NHL player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in the community.

Yandle joins retirement club

A further notable retirement from the NHL was also announced on Tuesday with 'Iron Man' Keith Yandle joining Chara and Subban in calling time on his playing career.

While not lauded like Chara and Subban, 36-year-old defenceman Yandle enjoyed a fine NHL career playing 1,109 regular season games with 619 points (103 goals, 516 assists) with the Arizona Coyotes, New York Rangers, Florida Panthers and Philadelphia Flyers.

The most impressive stat from Yandle's 16-year NHL career was the 989 consecutive games which he played between 2009 and 2022, which is currently an NHL 'Iron Man' record.

That ended on 29th March when he was made a healthy scratch.

Trio will be missed

In their own way, all three will be massively missed from the NHL. Chara especially made an impact matched by very few.

But time moves on and the torch has now been passed on to Charlie McAvoy (Bruins), Cale Makar (Colorado Avalanche), Quinn Hughes (Vancouver Canucks) and such like to be the new face of NHL defenceman for the foreseeable future.

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