NEW YORK – Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara put his money where his slap shot was. Then he went out and came through, as he always does, for his favorite charitable foundation, Right To Play – breaking a record Saturday night in the Bell Centre that was set the last time the NHL All-Star Weekend came to Montreal.
Chara blasted a 105.4-mph slapper to win the Cisco NHL Hardest Shot title for the third straight year and break the record of 105.2 mph set by Al Iafrate in 1993 in the Montreal Forum. Before Chara fired away, he asked his five Hardest Shot competitors to put up $1,000 each, with the winner to donate the pot to his favorite charity.
Edmonton's Sheldon Souray, Nashville's Shea Weber, the New York Islanders' Mark Streit, Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier and Montreal's Mike Komisarek quickly accepted Chara's invitation. The National Hockey League declared it would match their combined $6,000 donation. And the six member clubs they represent agreed to match their players' individual contributions with the NHLPA matching that $6,000 donation.
That added up to a $24,000 donation. It went to Right To Play when Chara, going last, powered past Weber's 103-mph rocket from earlier in the evening and Iafrate's historic blast from the past.
"Today is a very special day," Chara said. "Hopefully, we can spread this even further to the future. Again, I'm very, very thankful to all of the players, the hockey clubs, NHL and NHLPA for donating money. And hopefully, we can do this every year, every All-Star. You know, it's for a good cause."
Said NHL Sr. Vice President, Corporate Communications Bernadette Mansur: "When it comes to giving of themselves to support charitable causes, our players are second to none. The NHL Foundation, as well as the NHL member clubs, are delighted to support Zdeno Chara in this very worthwhile cause, Right To Play."
Right To Play is an international humanitarian organization that uses sport and play programs to improve health, develop life skills, and foster peace for children and communities in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world. Chara has been a devoted supporter and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro this past summer during an African tour he embarked upon in order to increase awareness of the organization.
"The NHLPA's Goals & Dreams fund is proud to support Right To Play through the Hardest Shot Competition," said Devin Smith, Chairman of the NHLPA Goals & Dreams fund. "We congratulate Zdeno Chara on his winning shot and his continued support of Right to Play."