For the 6-foot-9 defenseman and his gritty Boston Bruins teammates, the first club to win three seven-game series in a single postseason, the heavy lifting was over. The celebration was on.
"We are pretty OK with that weight," Chara said Thursday, the Cup in his grasp just as it was when he was the first to hoist it after the Bruins' 4-0 win in Game 7 over the Canucks less than 12 hours earlier.
He walked over to some of the about 500 fans who had gathered outside TD Garden, where the Bruins were 3-0 in the series, outscoring the Canucks 17-3. He let some of them touch the coveted trophy that hadn't been in the Bruins hands in 39 years.
"It's unbelievable. It's very exciting for the whole city, for us, for the whole organization. It's a very special day," said Chara, one of the NHL's top defenseman but never a champion in his previous 12 NHL seasons. "We're very honored to be here. We're so happy."
They won with Brad Marchand, a rookie pest, and Patrice Bergeron, who missed most of the 2007-08 season with a concussion. Each had two goals in the clincher.
First-line right wing Nathan Horton was on the ice to hold the Cup but hadn't played after sustaining a severe concussion on a late hit by defenseman Aaron Rome just 5:07 into Game 3. The Bruins did have midseason pickups Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly, playoff scoring leader David Krejci, and, of course, feisty, focused goalie Tim Thomas.
The Bruins hadn't won the title since 1972 and that team's name was erroneously engraved on the Cup as the BQSTQN BRUINS. This year, Thomas provided the Os -- as in the number of goals he allowed in two of the last four games against the Canucks.
He gave up just eight goals in the seven games to the highest-scoring team in the regular season -- the same number Vancouver's Roberto Luongo allowed in Game 3 alone.