Jason Chimera has a hint of grey sprinkled into his beard, but grizzled veteran says age is just a number and that he feels – and skates – like a younger man.
“A young 37 is a good way to put it,” Chimera said. “The game keeps you young. I feel more confident than I ever have. I haven’t lost a step. I work hard to keep my speed.”
Chimera, who the Islanders signed to a two-year deal on Friday, is coming off one of his best seasons, tying a career-high with 20 goals and hitting 40 points for the second time. Durability is one of his strengths, as the 6’3, 216lbs. winger played 529 of a possible 540 games over the past seven seasons including all 82 games in two of his last three seasons.
“I try to keep myself in pretty good shape and playing with the young guys every day keeps you young, keep you going and motivated to win,” Chimera said. “That’s all I really care about. I wanted to go to a team that has a chance to win and I felt the Islanders has the best shot of that.”
Having played for a division rival in Washington, Chimera has gotten to know the Islanders well, including a brutally-physical first-round series against the Capitals two seasons ago. His constant competitions against the Islanders apparently left an impression on the rugged winger.
“I like the makeup of the team,” Chimera said. “Good coaching, good people around and one of the best leaders in the game [in John Tavares]. It’s a pretty good combination.”
He said Islanders fans are also some of the loudest he’s played in front of, too.
“The atmosphere the New York Islanders’ fans have, the passion they bring to the rink is pretty awesome,” he said. “You look at that playoff series we had with them, it was probably the loudest I’ve ever heard a building. Instead of people yelling at me, maybe they’ll be on my side for once.”
Chimera had high praise for John Tavares, calling him one of the top leaders in the game. With news of Ladd breaking during the day, Chimera said he was eager to have Ladd join the Islanders as well and sees himself as a good veteran presence in the room.
“I’m one of those guys who wants to win a Stanley cup pretty badly, so it’ll be a good fit going forward,” he said.
“They are a team that’s been knocking on the door every year and hopefully I can get them over that hump.”