Every young hockey player around the world these days fantasizes about winning the Stanley Cup. They play out the scenarios at their local rink, on the pond or on the streets in their neighborhoods, scoring the series-winning goal.
Zdeno Chara is one of the lucky few that have gotten the chance to actually raise the Stanley Cup, holding it as high as it’s ever been held on the ice when the Boston Bruins won it all in 2011.
But it turns out Chara didn’t exactly have the same childhood fantasies as players who grew up in North America. In fact, Chara never had seen the most famous trophy in sports until he was 14 years old.
Chara recalled watching his first NHL game and seeing the trophy for the first time as a teenager in Czechoslovakia, rooting for countrymen Jaromir Jagr and Jiri Hrdina on the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991.
“Well I think I have said it many times, we didn’t get the coverage of the NHL games until maybe the early 90s,” Chara told reporters. “I remember watching my first NHL game, was the Stanley Cup Final — Pittsburgh Penguins and Minnesota North Stars at that time. So, pretty much the whole country followed Jaromir Jagr … and it was Jiri Hrdina as well, so that was my first experience.
“Then, obviously, after the game I saw the big huge trophy and that’s the first time I realized, obviously, that that was the Stanley Cup.”
Pretty crazy that Chara now has a chance to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup for a second time. And given all that the captain has battled through in these playoffs, and how Bruins fans reacted when he was given the go for Game 5, it would be an incredible moment to see the 42-year-old skating around TD Garden with the hardware in hand.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images