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Zdeno Chara's Instagram Feed Is Just Delightful

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- Few people, if any, predicted the Bruins would be arguably the best team in the NHL this year. But the Bruins' place near the top of the NHL standings is not the most surprising development of the 2017-18 season. Not even close.

That distinction belongs to the Instagram feed of Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, who created the account in January and has displayed sides of himself that few hockey fans ever imagined could belong to the 6-foot-9 defenseman who's bullied countless players over the years on the ice.

Perhaps the best example of what Chara's feed is all about can be found in a short video shared on Jan. 24. Standing in what appears to be the supermarket parking lot next door to the Bruins' practice facility in Brighton, Chara is doing something that very few people ever attempt to do.

He's holding a pigeon. And on top of that, he's getting really spiritual in the caption, which reads: "I like to feed them once in a while. Their trust feels very peaceful. It's on us how we embrace the trust of any animal. People sometimes misuse it. Shouldn't we value and enjoy it instead?"

It's a pretty stark contrast to how most hockey fans around North America know Chara:

He's also shared some sage advice on how to live life, which includes saying hello to everyone that you meet, and saying "please" and "thank you" as often as possible.

He told a pretty great story about the moment he learned who Brad Marchand is, which included a reaction of, "Who the f--- is this kid?"

He's shared details about his plant-based diet, his plan to play in the NHL "for many more years," his best wishes for Jaromir Jagr, and some seriously deep thoughts about his mental focus and mind-set:

In a post fondly reflecting on his time participating in the Olympics, Chara dropped this nugget: "Winning is beautiful but the ability to conquer oneself is most precious. To push beyond perceived limits, to feel truly alive."

He posted a throwback picture where he looks short while standing next to Shaquille O'Neal, shared his thoughts on children's future in this world, and he did what nobody else in the history of the internet has ever done: he told his followers that he enjoys reading their comments.

And in what was the post that inspired a general reaction of "awwww" from the internet, Chara discussed his friendship with Patrice Bergeron.

"Proud to have him as a teammate, my co-captain and mostly a dear friend," Chara said in the caption accompanying the photo, in which Chara looks like a proud papa. (They're only eight years apart.)

In short, Chara's Instagram feed has been nothing but a revelation. Anyone who's had the opportunity to speak to him over the years knew that he is a thoughtful and very respectful person, but most hockey fans -- and especially non-Bruins fans -- have likely only seen Chara as a bad guy who beats up their favorite players.

Chara said his goal for starting the account was "honoring the important aspects of life" as well as "to make sure that this is not about promoting myself, but rather about giving, sharing, motivating and helping people from all walks of life."

He's managed to have an incredible season on the ice as he approaches his 41st birthday, and he's also managed to do something even more difficult. He's managed to turn social media into a positive experience.

He's the tallest player in NHL history, he's the second-oldest active NHL player, and he's maybe the only person on earth who can maintain a 100 percent positive energy on social media. And he can also calmly feed a pigeon in a parking lot. There's seemingly nothing this man can't do.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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