On Monday, the NHL announced that the Bruins Zdeno Chara
was one of three finalists for the 2010-11 James Norris Memorial Trophy given annually since 1953 “to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-around ability in the position."
"It’s a big honor and I’m very humbled and very thankful," said Chara Monday afternoon before the Bruins left TD Garden for Game 6 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series versus Montreal.
"Especially after you consider how many guys had such a great season, a breakout season, I’m just very thankful," added Chara. "And, obviously, a big thank you goes to all the people who helped me to get there, especially my teammates, the organization, and my family and fans."
Chara's numbers speak for themselves:
- Chara led the NHL with a plus-33 ranking, which tied a career-high.
- The Slovakian Olympian also led the Bruins, the NHL’s third-best defensive team, in average time on ice with a mark of 25:26.
- He finished the season with 14-30-44 totals, and his 8 power play goals tied Michael Ryder for the most on the Bruins.
- Chara took a team-high 264 shots, and also chipped in 153 hits, 111 blocked shots and 32 takeaways in 81 games.
Furthermore, Chara is often matched against an opposing team's top line.
"You know what, that’s something I take a lot of pride in," admitted Chara. "I’m very competitive when it comes to defending the top lines and playing top lines.
"I know that it’s not an easy job, but I get up to it every night. You can’t think that it’s just you. Obviously, you have five guys on the ice and the whole 25 on the team helping you.
"[But] yeah, it’s a big motivation for me every night to face such skill and great players," he said.
Chara, 34, has been named Norris Trophy finalist four times. He won the award in 2008-09 while with Boston and was a finalist in 2003-04 with Ottawa and again during the 2007-08 campaign with the Bruins.
"Well I think obviously he’s a well-deserving player," said Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. "There are a lot of reasons, I think everyone who knows him here knows he plays lots of minutes, he also always plays against other team’s top lines.
"He’s utilized as a shutdown 'D' against the top players on other teams. The stats at the end of the year...speaks for itself. And double digits in goals, and certainly offensively he’s contributed well.
"So if you’re talking about Norris and talking about a defenseman that bring a lot, he’s certainly one of them," said Julien, who added, "And I don’t think there are many players in this league who will raise their hand and say they really enjoy playing against him."
The other finalists for this season's award are Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom and Nashville’s Shea Weber.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association submitted ballots for the Norris Trophy and the winner will be announced Wednesday, June 22, during the 2011 NHL Awards at the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas.