Zdeno Chara Celebrated Like Peter Bondra After Hat Trick in 2011

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Posted December 31, 2020

When Zdeno Chara scored a hat trick in a 7-0 Boston win against Carolina back in 2011, he skated to center ice, pulled off an invisible hat and pretended to throw it onto the ice.

Capitals fans may remember that move from Peter Bondra, a longtime friend of Chara’s from back when they played in Ottawa together (yes, Bondra played in Ottawa, for 23 games in 2003-04).

Bondra is about nine years older that Chara, and they’re both Slovakian, so it wouldn’t be surprising to hear that Chara ‘looked up’ – as much as he could look up to anyone – to Bondra. Chara said he learned the celebration from when Bondra had a hat trick against the Islanders.

“Big Zee welcome to DC! My guest bedroom is free,” Bonrda tweeted to Chara upon the news that he joined the Capitals. Chara is indeed in D.C. right now, as he confirmed in a conference call today.

As Greg Wyshynski, then working for Yahoo, reported at the time:

“I think I did it twice,” said Bondra, in a phone interview Monday night. “If ‘Z’ used that move, I think it’s going to cost him dinner next time he comes to Washington.”

Bondra was, of course, flattered by the homage.

As we were speaking with Bondra, a text message from Chara arrived: “He asked me if I saw his celebration,” said Bondra, who scored 503 in 16 NHL seasons before retiring in 2007.

“He asked if I remembered my move from when he was with the Islanders.”

In fact, Chara did use Bondra’s move, admitting as much to WEEI after the B’s 7-0 victory:

Chara celebrated the hat trick by gesturing to the crowd with his glove, waving on the fans to toss their hats. He admitted after the game that he saw Peter Bondra of the Capitals do it after notching three goals against him when we was with the New York Islanders, and that he kept the move stored in case he ever had the opportunity.

“I kind of remembered [thinking], ‘If I ever get a hat trick, I want to do the same.’ I thought it was pretty cool,” Chara said of seeing Bondra celebrate.

In both players’ cases, the euphoria of the moment trumped any preconceived planning.

“The celebration … you cannot practice it or anything,” said Bondra. “It’s a moment when the excitement of your goal make you react to the moment. Sometimes I wasn’t happy with what I did. It’s a moment where you’re excited to show how excited you are, but there’s a line and you want to respect the other team.”

The two Slovaks are long-time friends, and Bondra said they chat on a semi-regular basis. He was surprised that it took Chara 892 games to tally his first career hat trick – and was pleased the drought was over.

“I’m happy for him,” said Bondra. “He also only had to play 20 minutes, which is good.”