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Bruins Congratulate Zdeno Chara For Setting NHL Record

BOSTON (CBS) -- Approaching his 45th birthday, Zdeno Chara is still going. On Thursday, he entered uncharted territory.

Chara suited up for the Islanders on Thursday night in San Jose, in what was the 1,652nd game of his incredibly long NHL career. In reaching that mark, Chara set a new record for most regular-season NHL games played by a defenseman, passing Chris Chelios.

Chara is now tied with former Bruins teammate Mark Recchi for seventh-most games played overall, and he'll settle into seventh place by himself with one more game played.

The Bruins -- for whom Chara played his most games, at 1,023 -- honored the occasion by sharing a congratulatory graphic on social media.

The Bruins also shared a video of Chara's former teammates Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy congratulating him on the major achievement. Bruins GM Don Sweeney, president Cam Neely, and CEO Charlie Jacobs also sent their congratulatory messages.

"I would like to start by thanking Chris Chelios," Chara said after the game. "He set such a high standard for many of us. It's been very inspiring and a huge motivation. I want to thank him for that. … I'm very lucky that I get to still play this game."

Chara's career began with the Islanders on Nov. 19, 1997, when he played his first NHL game in Detroit. He spent four seasons with the Islanders before spending four years with the Senators. He signed as a free agent with the Bruins in 2006, becoming the team captain and serving in that role through the 2019-20 season. He won a Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011.

After leaving the Bruins, he played for the Washington Capitals last year before rejoining the Islanders this season.

Chara skated 16:26 on Thursday night, a bit down from his season average of 18:29 ... owing in part to the fact that he had to serve a five-minute major penalty for fighting in the second period.

Zdeno Chara Drops The Gloves And Lands Heavy Punches In Fight With Jeffrey Viel by SPORTSNET on YouTube

Though Chara's days as a point producer are over -- he has no goals and eight assists this season -- he still brings stout defense and tremendous size to the ice every night. As such, he may be on the move before the NHL's trade deadline, as playoff contenders may desire that kind of reliable defense for a postseason run.

For now, Chara has set a new standard for NHL defensemen, in a career that's spanned 25 years and 24 NHL seasons.

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