Boston Bruins

Tom Brady understandably grabbed most of the headlines for having unprecedented success for a 40-year-old quarterback. But on Causeway St., there’s another Boston athlete who is continuing to excel after hitting the big 4-0. Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara is crediting a similar approach to the Patriots quarterback for rejuvenating him, and it’s hard to deny as he enjoys one of his best seasons in years.

As detailed in a Thursday column by the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa, Chara has transitioned to an entirely plant-based diet that is paying off with his performance on the ice. He’s only adopted it since September, when he returned to the United States from Slovakia.

His main diet consists of “fruit, quinoa, brown rice, beans, chickpeas, lentils, salad, avocados, nuts, and seeds,” according to Shinzawa. He has abandoned beef, chicken, pork, and dairy as sources of protein and fat, although he occasionally eats eggs and salmon.

“I can tell I’m feeling better,” Chara told Shinzawa. “I know for a fact I’m playing with a lot more energy and I’m recovering faster.”

Zdeno Chara (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Zdeno Chara (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The ZC33 Method?

It’s hard to argue with the results on the ice. While Chara isn’t the offensive player he once was along the blue line, Bruce Cassidy still deploys him in the most important defensive situations. He’s still a top penalty-killer who always mans the back end against opposing top lines. And he still leads the team with 23:15 in average ice time.

Amazingly, it now feels like a sound investment to keep Chara around for at least one more season. He intends to keep playing and would like to stay here, and with the way he has played as a 40-year-old it’s hard to believe he’ll drop off precipitously next season. We’ll see how he looks a year from now, but at this point it would be a surprise if the team and Chara don’t work something out for 2018-19.

Chara’s thanking the “ZC33 Method” for helping him get back to the level he’s at right now. You can also thank the players around him for playing the best hockey they’ve played in years, which is why the Bruins are suddenly threatening for the President’s Trophy, if not one of the top playoff seeds in the Eastern Conference.

But if the B’s want to make a surprisingly deep playoff run (compared to where you thought they were at the beginning of the season), they’ll have to keep leaning on Chara to be their top shutdown defender. Thanks to some improved off-ice work, it’s translating to a late-career renaissance on it. He looks like he can be what he needs to be to have the Bruins playing into the summer.

— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.