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Hard Work Personified

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
LAS VEGAS -- Tim Thomas and Zdeno Chara took home some more hardware from the NHL Awards on Wednesday night.

Chara was selected as the recipient of the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award and Thomas earned his second Vezina Trophy.

"Well, we all know that to be selected by somebody like Mark, it’s a huge honor, I’m so humbled and happy to be selected," said Chara. "You have to learn to become a true leader.

"It doesn’t happen overnight, even for myself, we know that coming into Boston my first year has been kind of a rough start because that was my first year as a captain...and I think I’m at the point where I’m really myself.

"I’m very thankful to all of my teammates, obviously all the coaching staff and the organization. They believe in me and they know that we as a group, we can get the job done and it’s a privilege and I take it to heart and always try to do my best on and off the ice, and be fair, and be the hardest worker," he said.

Chara was also a finalist for the Norris Trophy, but that award was given to the Detroit Red Wings' Niklas Lidstrom. The B's captain, who earned the Norris in 2009, seemed content to even be in the running where Lidstrom is concerned.

"Obviously, he deserves it," said Chara. "Nik, he’s such an icon and one of the greatest if not the greatest defenseman to play the game.

"I look up to him so much, he’s done so much for the game for.

"You know, it’s the way that he acts and plays the game...I want to be like him. Obviously, my style of the game is different, but still, such an inspiration for everybody."

Thanks in large part to Thomas, Chara's name will join Lidstrom's on the Stanley Cup.

"Timmy and I, we have actually similar stories or roads or you know, bumps [that] we had to overcome on those roads," said Chara. "I’m just happy for him, obviously he had an unbelievable year and he won basically almost everything besides MVP.

"We know that without Tim it would be so much harder, or even, maybe not even possible to win the ultimate prize. He’s been working really hard, he’s been very focused since the beginning of the training camp and he...continued to get better and better.

"He’s so competitive, we all know that, he just wants to win and that’s what you need from a goalie. It’s just amazing and I’m happy for him, everybody is," he said.

Thomas talked about the work he put into the 2010-11 season.

"Well, I had a pretty good idea pretty early into camp that I would at least be able to play at a level that was high enough to play in the NHL and earn my own self respect back," he said. "Now last summer of going through the work that it took to get myself to the level I wanted to be at, that was a lot of hard work.

"I was doing three workouts a day. And I was pretty much exhausted all the time because that what I knew it would take.

"But its all paid off. And it’s a story [that shows] if you put in the work [it'll pay] off."

However, the big pay off was the big silver cup the B's took home from Vancouver. Thomas, who also earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as NHL Playoff MVP, said that the addition of the Vezina Trophy to the Stanley Cup made the 2011 edition as important to him as his first award in 2009.

"I think this one is just as special, just special in a different way, you know after last year," said Thomas of the season he spent as a backup to Tuukka Rask. "But [with] everything that has happened this year -- I think because of all that I have been through -- you could win this six times and every time would be just as special."

Like Chara, Thomas looks to continue to improve during the 2011-12.

"I’d like to see what I can do to raise the bar higher and push myself to the limits," said Thomas. "One of my main goals at the beginning of this year was to...put in the work and I was going to find out how good that I could be.

"And I am going to try to keep that attitude going forward.

"I think that’s the way to go about it," he said.
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