BOSTON – At 42 years old, Zdeno Chara is the oldest active player in the National Hockey League. But when the 6'9" Boston Bruins defenseman began his playing time during the decade of the 2010s, he was just a seasoned hockey veteran who was midway through his fourth season with the Bruins.

Now, he is coming to the end of a storied decade with the club that has seen him become one of the league's best and wisest players. Throughout the ten seasons of this decade, Chara has not only been one of the best Bruins on the team, but he has helped lead that team through multiple deep post-season runs. Along the way, he has become an all-time great Bruin and one of the best defensemen in hockey history.

Not the most talented Bruin of the decade (that honor belongs to Patrice Bergeron), Chara has been the team's leader and captain and his presence has been a crucial point of the team's success over the years.

During the 2010s, Chara appeared on the First All-Star Team once and on the Second All-Star Team twice; he was a captain on the 2012 team. Chara was also a finalist three times for the James Norris Memorial Trophy, which honors the best defenseman in the NHL annually. In 2011, Chara won the Hardest Shot competition (an All-Star event he also won in 2012, setting a slapshot record), as well as leading the league with a +33 rating, en route to a Mark Messier Leadership Award. Of course, 2011 was also the season when Chara was a part of the Stanley Cup winning Bruins team. Few things were as satisfying as seeing the hard-working Chara finally lift the cup over his head eight years ago.

During his past decade with the Bruins, Chara recorded an impressive 289 points, but obviously his on-ice contributions were mostly noteworthy for his stalwart defensive play. And the oldest player in the league is not done yet! He has expressed his intentions to play well into the next decade, too.

Image via Flickr / Amanda