RALEIGH, NC --
In Zdeno Chara
's mind, it was never a sure thing. Or at least that was what he was saying before his record breaking performance on Saturday night.
|Chara. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) |
As he arrived for the NHL Fantasy Draft on Friday, Chara, the Boston Bruins 6-foot-9 defenseman was asked if he were nervous about the following evening's Hardest Shot competition at the NHL SuperSkills.
"Well, I’m going to try to do my best," said Chara. "But I know the competition is very very tough.
"There are some guys that can shoot the puck really hard."
The B's captain also explained that there was much more involved than simply shooting.
"If you look at it that [way], you only shoot, but you have to time all those things in only one or two seconds," said Chara. "So, you really have to be ready mentally and physically
"You have to warm up for that kind of event and I think I’m almost the last one [to take a shot]. The whole time you stand there and wait.
"You don’t want to hurt yourself, so you know you try to stay warm and get ready," he said.
Chara's prediction was spot on. Nashville's Shea Weber reached 104.8 on the radar gun in the first round of the contest, while Chara's blast was registered at 104.1.
"I wasn’t exactly sure what the rules were," admitted Chara. "I knew there was some kind of...final or something, so then I realized, 'Okay I have one more shot at this.'
"I tried to do my best and it did happen. So I was glad."
In the final, Chara broke his own NHL Hardest Shot record of 105.4 and took home his fourth consecutive Hardest Shot title with a breathtaking 105.9 MPH blast.
"I said it right from the beginning, I like to have fun at these things. I enjoy it, but at the same time when it comes down to show what you have, you have to sell it. You have to compete and I think that’s what I did tonight," he said.
Unlike the regular season, which finds Chara booed in nearly every away rink he plays, on Saturday night the fans at Raleigh's RBC Center were clearly behind Boston's big man.
"It was awesome I loved it," he said. "I mean, obviously, they gave me the extra energy and a big thank you goes to them.
"It’s always overwhelming when you’re getting this kind of reception in away stadiums...and it’s something that is always stuck in your memories and you always remember that and cherish that."
Prior to Saturday, Chara had recorded triple-digit blasts of 100.4 MPH in 2007, 103.1 MPH in 2008, and 105.4 MPH in 2009 to win the Hardest Shot titles at the last three NHL All-Star SuperSkills.
But does Chara think that there is an even higher speed to be found?
"I think the limit is going to be always pushed," said Chara. "It’s just the nature of the business.
"Records are meant to be broken and who knows, it could be all the way to 110.
"[With] the technology of the sticks and players getting stronger and bigger, the record could be pushed anywhere...but who knows, maybe it’s going to last for a long time," he said.