It was last year, last spring or summer, that Zdeno Chara reached out to Nicklas Lidstrom.
He wanted to understand the issues that the former Red Wings defenseman weighed as his career neared its end, the reasons that ultimately made him decide his time in the NHL was over.
Lidstrom wasn't the only one. Chara also contacted former teammates Mark Recchi and Jaromir Jagr, doing his research, trying to understand his own future through their pasts.
The decisions, for anyone contemplating leaving the only career they've ever known, are never easy. Lidstrom bowed out when he was 42, at the end of the 2011-12 season after 20 years and 1,564 games in the NHL. Recchi left when he was 43, after winning the Stanley Cup at the end of the 2010-11 season with 1,652 games under his belt.
Chara turns 42 on Monday.
"I want to play," the Boston Bruins defenseman said. "I want to continue to play. I believe that I have a lot left and I have a lot of passion for the game. I love competing. I love doing all these things, coming to the rink, talking to the guys, doing the routine, working out in the summer, going through that grind.
"There's something about it that you get so attached to it, it becomes your life. And I've been playing for so long that it is my life."
And he's not ready to give that up.