Even a man who was considered public enemy number one in Montreal can be celebrated.
Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara played his 1,500th National Hockey League game during a 5-4 loss to the Montreal Canadiens Tuesday night. It’s an accomplishment that only five other defencemen have ever maanged in the history of the league.
The number is large and surprising enough, but to see Canadiens fans — the same ones who called the police on him after he throttled former Hab Max Pacioretty into a stanchion — applaud him for his achievement may have been a bit shocking.
Habs fans should be commended for putting whatever differences they had aside. Reaching over 1,000 NHL games is impressive enough. The fact that Chara is now three-quarters of the way to 2,000 is incredible. It’s something worth pointing out even in another arena.
Some may be indifferent to the achievements on an opponent. Others, still hurt by the hit, couldn’t bring themselves to praise the Slovakian giant for his milestone. Their feelings are unsurprising, and also valid. There is wide-ranging history in the bloody, brutal Bruins-Canadiens rivalry after all.
Never forgive, never forget. pic.twitter.com/pwGdj3eUnJ— Aaron Lakoff (@aaronlakoff) November 6, 2019
What did Zdeno Chara himself think of the Canadiens faithful giving him a standing ovation? “It felt really nice. I really appreciated it. It was really classy. It was something that I’ll definitely remember,” he said after the game.
Would the Bruins ever do the same for Brendan Gallagher, or any other Hab? It doesn’t matter. The Canadiens organization has long been recognized as one of the league’s premier franchises, and they acted like it for honouring a bitter rival. Canadiens fans deserve some kudos for taking a moment to tip their caps to an NHL veteran and a future Hall of Famer.