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Big fans of Bruins' Zdeno Chara

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 24. 2011 10:37PM

Domenic Canny, 4, of Manchester poses for a photo with Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara at “The Big Z Challenge,” a charity event that helps raise money for the Little Baby Face Foundation. (BRUCE PRESTON / UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER - Zdeno Chara came in all forms Monday.

There was the pig-tailed Chara. The burly blond-haired Chara. Even the red-haired Chara. There was the old Chara and the young Chara. But the only Chara standing 6-foot-9 was the real Chara, and that was the one all the other Charas came to see.

'I was really surprised by how tall he is,' John Valvo, 12, of Bedford said after the captain of the Boston Bruins passed by a line of more than 60 people - many wearing Chara sweaters and T-shirts - waiting outside the office of Hoertdoerfer/Connelly Dentistry on Elliot Way to get an autograph and their picture taken with him.

None of the Charas - including the real one - seemed too concerned about the team's slow start.

'We know that we are not having a great start,' Chara said, 'but we just have to make a few adjustments and make things a little easier and better, and we should be fine.'

The Bruins are 3-5 and already eight points behind conference-leading Washington. Too early to worry?

'I think they can come back,' Valvo said.

Chara said the team's lack of offense - the Bruins rank near the bottom of the league in goals per game - has to improve.

'Right now, it seems like scoring goals is a little bit harder and we sometimes make plays that are not as simple,' Chara said. 'We have to make things a little more simple and we should be all right.'

Chara took advantage of an off day for the Bruins to come to Manchester and launch the inaugural Big Z Challenge. The initiative was to benefit the Little Baby Face Foundation, which provides corrective surgery for children with facial deformities.

Dentists Bryan Hoertdoerfer and Tom Connelly have both volunteered their time for the foundation, which flies in financially needy patients from around the world for surgeries in New York City. They are hoping to raise $10,000 for the foundation through the Big Z Challenge.

The Challenge was a stickhandling drill, but many of the people there Monday - mostly patients at Hoertdoerfer/Connelly Dentistry or friends - were just there to have their picture taken with Chara and get his autograph. They paid $30 each.

Steve Cavanaugh, 11, of Chichester brought his Stanley Cup replica bank for Chara to autograph; Sophia Hausberger, 7, of Nashua and her father Stefan had a picture they took of Chara holding the real Stanley Cup in the parade that followed Boston's win over Vancouver in the Cup finals.

Hoertdoerfer said all the money raised would go directly to the Little Baby Face Foundation; he said Chara's appearance fee was paid for by Hoertdoerfer/Connelly Dentistry.

Hoertdoerfer and Connelly, who both play hockey several days a week, have a relationship with Chara that dates back several years when Chara first visited Connelly's Boston office. Hoertdoerfer is currently the team dentist for the Bruins.

Chara said he makes public appearances when he can.

'When I have some free time, I don't mind doing appearances,' Chara said. 'I know it's important for community and always for fans.'

And for the kids in line, this was a trip to the dentist's office they were all happy to make.

E-mail staff writer Jim Fennell at

Sports Bruins/NHL Manchester