Veteran Chara back with Islanders, NHL team that drafted him

New York (AFP) –


Slovakian defenseman Zdeno Chara, the oldest player in the NHL at 44, has come full circle with a one-year contract with the New York Islanders.

"Who would know that this would work out the way it did after 20 some years, but I’m certainly very honored and humbled to be an Islander again," Chara said on a Zoom teleconference to announce the deal.

Islanders president Lou Lamoriello had been looking to bolster the team's depth since trading left-hander Nick Leddy to the Red Wings in July.

Chara, who has 207 goals, 459 assists and 2,000 penalty minutes in regular-season play and another 18 goals in the playoffs, played 55 of 56 regular-season games last season for the Washington Capitals.

He had inked a one-year deal with the Caps after 14 seasons and one Stanley Cup as captain of the Boston Bruins.

Still a formidable presence on the ice, Chara can surpass Hall of Famer Chris Chelios (1,651) for the most career NHL games for a defenseman.

"I love the game," said Chara, who added that the Islanders were not the only team that showed interest in signing him.

"I have passion for the game and believe that I can still play."

Chara was selected in the third round of the 1996 NHL draft by the Islanders, making his debut for them on November 19, 1997.