He still has it.
A month away from turning 45, Zdeno Chara has broken the record for most games played by an NHL defenseman, beating Hall of Fame defender Chris Chelios by skating in his 1,652nd game Thursday night in San Jose.
Chara is currently in his 24th NHL season, suiting up for the team he started with, the New York Islanders. A cocktail of circumstances has put Chara in a spot where he plays 18:31 minutes of game for a struggling Islanders team. But he has proven that, while not at the pace he's typically known for, that he still can be an everyday NHLer despite being one of the greyest greybeards to ever play in the league.
Chara, a future Hall of Famer himself, is the tallest player in NHL history at 6-foot-9 and is someone that nobody wants to mess with. Jeffrey Viel, a rookie with four points and 69 penalty minutes in 17 games, wasn't afraid to drop the gloves in Chara's historic game. Chara, who has seven inches on Viel, won the fight – and for good measure, Viel was just a year old when Chara made his NHL debut in 1997.
According to Hockey Fights, Chara has 76 fights to his credit to go with 207 goals and 674 points. Among other accolades, the Slovakian defender won a Stanley Cup, a Norris Trophy, two World Championship silver medals and was named to the NHL's first all-star team on two occasions. Chara won five consecutive hardest shot competitions from 2007-12 (2010 didn't have an all-star game), with his hardest shot clocking in at 108.8.
Chara is second among active NHLers in games played, with Joe Thornton sitting first with 1,704. Patrick Marleau hasn't officially retired, but he has the NHL's all-time record at 1,779.
Could Chara break that? It all depends on how much longer the living behemoth wants to keep going.