Did Zdeno Chara, P.K. Subban and Keith Yandle Plan This?
Zdeno Chara, P.K. Subban and Keith Yandle all retired within hours of each other. While the likes of Chara and Yandle may have been expected, Subban was a little bit of a shock. He’s obviously nowhere near the player he used to be, but I would imagine that he still had some gas left in the tank. As soon as Yandle’s ironman streak was broken, his days in the NHL were pretty much numbered. Chara showed signs of slowing down with the Islanders in an overall smug season.
Respect to Big Z
Obviously, Chara is the highest profile of the three. A cup winner in 2011, the Slovakian legend also has a Norris Trophy and Messier Leadership Award to his name. He also sits in seventh place all-time in games played. Drafted in 1996, Chara played an impressive 1,680 games with the Islanders, Senators, Bruins, Capitals, and then the Islanders once again. He also holds a quite impressive record. At 6-foot-9, he is also the tallest player in NHL history. His size already made him a unicorn, but it also contributed to what should be considered an incredibly impressive career. Despite not being an incredibly fluid skater, he could do a bit of everything on the ice.
Physically imposing, a very smart defenseman with his stick, and obviously a nightmare to play against. Chara crushed opponents on a daily basis. Not to mention, he also had an absolute cannon of a slap shot Chara commanded great respect during his career, notably wearing the “C” for the Bruins for 15 years! From 2006-20, he was the face of a city that went through a lot. The Boston Marathon Bombing rattled the city to its core; COVID-19 flipped it upside down. But Chara handled every second with class and honor. Along with winning it all in 2011, Chara also led the B’s to two more Stanley Cup Final appearances in 2013 and 2019. For Zdeno Chara, it is only a matter of time before his spot in the Hall of Fame is ready.
PK Subban was Electrifying
The Montreal Canadiens have had some lean years since their last Cup in 1993. However, there was a time where the Habs were one of the most fun to watch teams in the NHL. That time came when P.K. Subban and Carey Price were riding the bus. He broke barriers as an advocate for social change and his charity work is virtually unmatched among his NHL peers. Like Chara, Subban is a Norris winner. The shortened 2013 season was a masterclass for Subban. In 42 games, he put up 38 points from the back end. You can also look at his career in Nashville as a success. He played in an All-Star game and added a top-three Norris finish in 2018.
However, Subban sadly fell short of the Stanley Cup, coming close a couple of times. In 2015, the upstart Habs made it to the Conference Finals after booting Chara and the Bruins in seven games. A collision between Chris Kreider and Price knocked out the Vezina winner for the series, though. Had he not gotten hurt, the series likely would not have ended with the Rangers in six. He also made the Final in 2017, his first season in Nashville. However, the Pittsburgh Penguins were too much to handle as they fell in six games. A career like Subban’s deserves to have a championship ring somewhere in there, but sadly that is not the case. However, he already seems to have a very strong start to a long career in the media industry.
Keith Yandle was an Underrated Star
Keith Yandle never played in an All-Star Game. However, he was still a great defenseman on his day. The Boston native has silky smooth skating and abilities as a powerplay quarterback. Thanks to that, his point totals were routinely in the 40s and 50s, even recording a 60-plus point season on his resume. He also got around quite well. Starting out with the Coyotes, he was a fan favorite after getting drafted in 2006. However, the Rangers acquired him in a trade-deadline shocker in 2015. After falling short in the Finals that year, he spent another year in New York before getting sent to the Florida Panthers. He aged gracefully in Sunrise, as he hit a career-high 62 points in 2018-2019 at age 32. Like Subban, Yandle was close but no cigar to the Stanley Cup.
All three of these defenseman should be celebrated. I think any NHLer would be proud to have the kind of career that any of them had. Zdeno Chara, P.K. Subban and Keith Yandle, congratulations on many great years of play in the NHL! I wish you three all the best in retirement.
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