Jagr on Chara: 'Nobody believed in him, they laughed at him'

Published September 22, 2022 at 9:13
Call this a case of greatness recognizing greatness. NHL legend Jaromir Jagr has commented on the retirement of defenceman Zdeno Chara, who decided to call it a career earlier this week after close to 1700 regular season games in the NHL, along with another 200 playoff games. Jagr had high praise for Chara, but said no one in Slovakia believed he could make it to the NHL when he was younger because they thought his size would make him slow and uncoordinated.

"His journey is an incredible story...Nobody believed in him, he didn't even get a proper chance. They laughed at him. He proved with his will and hard work, and he became the best defenseman in the NHL in a few years," said Jagr.

As for playing against Chara, Jagr said no one gave him a harder time, and not just because of his size.

"It was because of his height, his range, but also his strength. I had nothing to surprise him with," said Jagr.

"When I had a small player playing against me, I tried to beat him with my strength. If he was slow and strong, I'd play with speed. But I had nothing to surprise Chara. That's why it was the hardest for me to play against him."

Jagr and Chara played together briefly with the Boston Bruins. Jagr was brought in at the trade deadline in 2013, and the Bruins went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks, eventually losing in six games.

"There was 100% a huge mutual respect," said Jagr. "We were close to each other also because we're not that far apart in age."

Jagr will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as soon as he ends his professional playing career (He's still playing with Kladno of the Czech Extraliga at the age of 50). There's a very good chance Chara will be inducted one day as well. The Bruins have already indicated that Chara's number 33 will be retired. No date has been set for the ceremony just yet.