By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Few people, if any, predicted the Bruins would be arguably the best team in the NHL this year. But the Bruins’ place near the top of the NHL standings is not the most surprising development of the 2017-18 season. Not even close.

That distinction belongs to the Instagram feed of Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, who created the account in January and has displayed sides of himself that few hockey fans ever imagined could belong to the 6-foot-9 defenseman who’s bullied countless players over the years on the ice.

Perhaps the best example of what Chara’s feed is all about can be found in a short video shared on Jan. 24. Standing in what appears to be the supermarket parking lot next door to the Bruins’ practice facility in Brighton, Chara is doing something that very few people ever attempt to do.

He’s holding a pigeon. And on top of that, he’s getting really spiritual in the caption, which reads: “I like to feed them once in a while. Their trust feels very peaceful. It’s on us how we embrace the trust of any animal. People sometimes misuse it. Shouldn’t we value and enjoy it instead?”

It’s a pretty stark contrast to how most hockey fans around North America know Chara:

He’s also shared some sage advice on how to live life, which includes saying hello to everyone that you meet, and saying “please” and “thank you” as often as possible.

The 4 words: At a very young age my parents taught me and reminded me to be humble but driven at the same time. To me this starts with being polite and respectful. Making sure that when you enter a room with someone in it you say HELLO and greet the person you see in front of you. When you ask for help or just a simple thing make sure that you say PLEASE. And, never ever forget to say THANK YOU and GOODBYE before you leave. These 4 little words go very long ways in life. They help me create wonderful bonds in daily life and they make me a happier person. Simply because I know that others feel appreciated. It is important to care about others. Thank you Mom & Dad for teaching me these important things. ——————————————————————————— 4 veci: Uz vo velmi mladom veku ma rodicia ucili a pripominali mi, aby som bol cielavedomy ale zaroven pokorny. Zacina to pri prejavovani slusnosti a respektu. Pri vstupeni do miestnosti POZDRAVIT, pri akejkolvek ziadosti POPROSIT. A nikdy nezabudnut PODAKOVAT a ROZLUCIT SA. Tieto cnosti mi kazdodenne pomahaju vytvarat pekne chvile a robia ma stastnejsim clovekom. Pretoze viem, ze ludia v mojom okoli sa citia oceneni. A je dolezite cenit si a starat sa o inych. Dakujem mama a otec, ze ste ma naucili dolezite veci. #hello #goodbye #thankyou #please #grateful

A post shared by Zdeno Chara (@zeechara33) on

He told a pretty great story about the moment he learned who Brad Marchand is, which included a reaction of, “Who the f— is this kid?”

I remember the day like it was yesterday when I was in the gym in 2008 getting ready for a game and watching world juniors on TV when Team Canada scored and this kid was jumping on the glass and threw his stick in the crowd. I was like “Who the f*** is this kid”?? Our coach back then J. Whitesides was watching it with me, turned to me and said “He is ours“. Quick fast forward and Brad had a big impact on our 2011 Championship or 2016 Worlds and 2016 World Cup. When Brad started playing in the @nhl what I liked about him was his willingness to learn. Something so vital for anybody in any field, or simply in real life. I am very happy for him, that his hard work is paying off. Congratulations Marshy and Thank you for representing us @nhlbruins at the All Star game in Tampa. Your captain #NHLAllStar 💫 #bostonbruins #bradmarchand #nhl #icehockey ——————————————————————— Pamätam si ako keby to bolo vcera ked som bol v 2008 v posilovni a pripravoval sa na zapas. V TV vysielali majstrovstva juniorky a tento mlady chalan dal za Kanadu gol, vrhol sa na plexisklo a hodil hokejku do publika. Hovorim si “kto je k**** tento chalan?” Nas vtedajsi trener J. Whitesides pozeral spolu so mnou, pozrel sa na mna a hovori: “Ten je nas”. Ked sa presunieme v case o par rokov dopredu, Brad mal velky vplyv na zisk Stanley Cupu 2011 a na Majstrovstvach Sveta a Svetovom Pohari 2016. Ked zacal hrat v @nhl pacil sa mi jeho zaujem a otvorenost ucit sa. Nieco tak dolezite pre kohokolvek v akomkolvek obore, alebo jednoducho v realnom zivote. Som pre nho velmi stastny, ze sa mu tvrda praca a snaha vracaju. Gratulujem Marshy a dakujem za to, ako si nas @nhlbruins reprezentoval na All Star v Tampe. Tvoj kapitan

A post shared by Zdeno Chara (@zeechara33) on

He’s shared details about his plant-based diet, his plan to play in the NHL “for many more years,” his best wishes for Jaromir Jagr, and some seriously deep thoughts about his mental focus and mind-set:

The mind and the body are highly correlated. Any vital athletic performance is contributed to the right mindset under great pressure and responsibility. People spend the majority of time and effort on physical training but focus, anchoring in the present moment, decision-making, self-confidence, inner peace.. those are all in our head and decisive. When the mind is controlled and our inner voice aligned with the purpose the body is capable of more than we realize. Rule the mind and your body will follow. Your imagination is endless. No human is limited. It’s in our DNA to push the limits. Whether something is possible or impossible is only a matter of perspective. The “window” through which you view the world. What do you see through your “window”? 👉🏽😏 #nolimit #motivation #progress #mindset #nhl ——————————————————————— Mysel a telo su uzko prepojene. Kazdy vynimocny sportovy vykon pod tlakom a s velkou zodpovednostou je postaveny na spravnom stave mysle. Ludia venuju vacsinu casu a usilia fyzickej priprave ale sustredenost, sila pritomneho okamziku, spravne rozhodovanie, vnutorny pokoj.. su vsetko v nasej hlave a absolutne klucove. Ak mame mysel pod kontrolou a nas vnutorny hlas je zjednoteny s nasim zamerom, vtedy je nase telo schopne viac ako si uvedomujeme. Ovladnime svoju mysel a telo bude nasledovat. Nasa predstavivost je nekonecna. Clovek nema obmedzenia. Je v nasom DNA posuvat hranice. Mozne alebo nemozne je len vecou pohladu. Pomyselne “okno” cez ktore vnimame svet. Aky je pohlad cez Tvoje “okno”? 👉🏽😏

A post shared by Zdeno Chara (@zeechara33) on

In a post fondly reflecting on his time participating in the Olympics, Chara dropped this nugget: “Winning is beautiful but the ability to conquer oneself is most precious. To push beyond perceived limits, to feel truly alive.”

Every athlete hopes to one day compete at the Olympics and I wasn't any different. I was very fortunate to participate in a number of Olympics but I will never forget the moment when I was honored to carry my country's flag 🇸🇰 at the opening ceremony in Sochi 2014. It was a dream come true. The most wonderful feeling of being at the Olympics is taking part. Winning is beautiful but the ability to conquer oneself is most precious. To push beyond perceived limits, to feel truly alive. I wish all of you athletes an exhausting but magnificent experience, to fight for the right reason and collect beautiful memories. For some of you it’s a lifetime of training for just ten seconds. I wish you love in what you do and hope your hard work and lasting moral benefits will motivate and inspire all of us watching. Best of luck to you all in 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Big Zee #greatness #sacrifice #values #discipline #consistency #hardwork #courage #olympics2018 #winterolympics ————————————————————————— Kazdy sportovec veri, ze jedneho dna bude sutazit na olympijskych hrach a ani ja som nebol vynimkou. Mal som to stastie byt na Olympiade ale nikdy nezabudnem na moment, ked sa mi usla nesmierna pocta niest vlajku nasej krajiny 🇸🇰 pocas otvaracieho ceremonialu v Sochi 2014. Bol to splneny sen. Tym najuzasnejsim pocitom na Olympiade je byt jej sucastou. Vitazit je krasne ale schopnost prekonat sameho seba je najvzacnejsia. Prekonavat pomyselne limity a citit radost v srdci. Sportovci, prajem vam vycerpavajuci ale prekrasny zazitok, aby ste bojovali zo spravnych dovodov a zbierali nadherne skusenosti. Pre niektorych z vas je to celozivotna obeta pre tych par sekund. Prajem vam lasku k tomu co robite a dufam, ze vase posolstvo bude inspirovat vsetkych naokolo. Vela stastia na Zimnych olympijskych hrach 2018 v Pjongcang.

A post shared by Zdeno Chara (@zeechara33) on

He posted a throwback picture where he looks short while standing next to Shaquille O’Neal, shared his thoughts on children’s future in this world, and he did what nobody else in the history of the internet has ever done: he told his followers that he enjoys reading their comments.

And in what was the post that inspired a general reaction of “awwww” from the internet, Chara discussed his friendship with Patrice Bergeron.

“Proud to have him as a teammate, my co-captain and mostly a dear friend,” Chara said in the caption accompanying the photo, in which Chara looks like a proud papa. (They’re only eight years apart.)

Another road trip. Out of all the players I played with Patrice has been my teammate the longest – 12 years exactly. We shared some lows but also some great ups during our time together. He is the ultimate teammate you want to have on your team. The guy plays though everything: broken bones, strains, punctured lungs, you name it. He is a Warrior, not to overlook his play, night in night out, every shift leading by example. Proud to have him as a teammate, my co-captain and mostly a dear friend. #teammates #teamspirit #nhlbruins #patricebergeron #hardwork #motivation #friendship —————————————————————— Dalsia dlhsia zapasova cesta. Zo vsetkych hracov s ktorymi som hral je Patrice najdlhsie mojim spoluhracom. Zdielali sme mnoho vyhier aj prehier. Je to ultimatny spoluhrac, akeho by chcel mat v teame kazdy. Tento hrac vydrzi vsetko a hra aj so zlomenymi kostami, natiahnutymi väzmi, s prasknutym plucnym vankusom, proste hra. Je to velky bojovnik, nehovoriac o jeho hernej elegancii. Kazdy zapas, kazde striedanie ide prikladom. Som hrdy, ze je moj spoluhrac, moj asistent kapitana ale najmä dobry priatel.

A post shared by Zdeno Chara (@zeechara33) on

In short, Chara’s Instagram feed has been nothing but a revelation. Anyone who’s had the opportunity to speak to him over the years knew that he is a thoughtful and very respectful person, but most hockey fans — and especially non-Bruins fans — have likely only seen Chara as a bad guy who beats up their favorite players.

Chara said his goal for starting the account was “honoring the important aspects of life” as well as “to make sure that this is not about promoting myself, but rather about giving, sharing, motivating and helping people from all walks of life.”

He’s managed to have an incredible season on the ice as he approaches his 41st birthday, and he’s also managed to do something even more difficult. He’s managed to turn social media into a positive experience.

He’s the tallest player in NHL history, he’s the second-oldest active NHL player, and he’s maybe the only person on earth who can maintain a 100 percent positive energy on social media. And he can also calmly feed a pigeon in a parking lot. There’s seemingly nothing this man can’t do.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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