The Skate Podcast: Brian Lawton talks Chara’s impact on hockey culture

Matt Kalman
January 09, 2020 - 2:34 pm

Zdeno Chara is closing in on 1,000 games played with the Bruins, something that many never would’ve predicted when the Bruins signed him as unrestricted free agent July 1, 2006.

On this week’s The Skate Podcast, co-hosts Ken Laird and Matt Kalman were joined by NHL Network analyst and 1983 No. 1 overall NHL draft pick Brian Lawton, a veteran of more than 450 NHL games, to discuss a number of topics.

Lawton talked about what he thinks Bruins general manager Don Sweeney’s approach will be to the 2020 NHL trade deadline, whether the Bruins can continue to succeed with Torey Krug and Matt Grzelcyk both part of their defense corps and also if the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs are going to challenge the Bruins for first place in the Atlantic Division.

But Lawton also talked about Chara, and not just what Boston’s captain has meant to the team and the NHL as a player, but the impact he’s made as a person.

“I think he’s been a game-changer in terms of what he’s meant to the league. We just hadn’t really seen someone come in with that type of size and have that type of impact,” Lawton said.

 “What’s really impressed me most about Zee is the way that he has driven the cultural change, and I mean one that’s really significant in the world today. Just the concept of the way Zee treats the rookie players, making everybody feel welcome, doing away with kind of that moniker that you’re a rookie or you’re beneath the rest of the group. That’s been part of the secret sauce for me for the Boston Bruins, and it wasn’t that way when I was a player.

“I remember thinking this is the stupidest thing, what’s going on in terms of the treatment of rookies. You keep your mouth shut, you’re a high draft choice, you’re a young kid, but I remember having thoughts of ‘this is so dumb. Are we really trying to get ahead as an organization by treating our young people this way? Is this really the path to success?

“And it took a long time for anybody else to really come in and to have the courage to make the changes that I think Zee has driven home there more than any other player in the league and I commend him for that.”

Laird and Kalman also dug into some hot Brett Ritchie/David Backes talk, debated whether the Bruins have enough toughness, whether their third defense pair needs to be bolstered and they commended Nashville for recycling coach John Hynes.

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