Atlanta, GA --
Boston strongman, Zdeno Chara
, successfully defended his hardest shot title Saturday evening in front of a supportive crowd in Atlanta's Philips Arena. Chara, literally the largest man to ever wear an NHL uniform, blasted a puck into a net at an astounding 103.1 miles per hour on his third attempt of the Hardest Shot portion of the Dodge/NHL SuperSkills and propelled himself past Tampa Bay Lightning star Vincent Lecavalier.
Earlier in the day, Chara, the second-year captain of the Boston Bruins, had said that he did not think he would be at his best when the NHL SuperSkills premier event, placed second to last on the evening's docket, finally came about during the competition.
The defenseman's first attempt did not register on the radar gun, so Chara was awarded an additional attempt.
"On the first one -- I didn't feel really good, and I went too high," said a wide smiled Chara after the competition. "So I had another two (attempts) so I knew I had to go a little bit lower and use more of my body."
Chara, who actually stumbled after the follow through of his final shot, used all 81 inches of his frame in his windup and attacked the puck by putting every one of his 255 pounds behind his last attempt. Replays showed a strong flex on Chara's stick -- the NHL's longest -- and a perfect shot found twine.
"You have keep (the shot) about 10-inches off of the ice," said Chara. "That's probably best place to put it."
Standing next to him in the locker room, two of his teammates were not shocked that their captain buried the attempt.
"For the skills competition we got a front row seat," said Milan Lucic
, who represented Boston in the YoungStars game. "And holy smokes. 103! (Lecavalier's) 101.9, that's hard to beat. Lecavalier set the bar high.
"And that gave Z a little more motivation.
"Knowing him, he wasn't going to let that lead (stand) and let Vinny take that title away from him," he said.Tim Thomas
, Boston's All-Star goalie, was asked if Chara, who won the 2007 Hardest Shot title with an attempt that hit 100.4 on the radar gun, ever hit him with that shot in practice.
"Accidentally," said Thomas. "Sometimes he catches me trying to get out of the way."
Chara, Thomas and teammate Marc Savard
will all participate in the NHL All-Star Game, Sunday night at 6:00 p.m. before returning to practice with the Bruins on Monday.