MONTREAL - As if making his All-Star debut in front of his home fans won’t be stressful enough, Mike Komisarek is also staring down the barrels of a Hardest Shot showdown with the likes of defending champ Zdeno Chara, and old buddy Sheldon Souray.
“My strategy is to just shoot it low and hope I hit the net. It’s going to be a tough time if I miss the net out there,” joked Komisarek, whose last appearance in a hardest shot competition was at the 2003 AHL All-Star Game, where he recalls clocking in at around 96 mph.
“I don’t think that’s going to win it here, though. You’ve got to at least break into triple digits to have any chance at all,” he admitted.
While pride and bragging rights are already on the line in the event, the players decided to up the ante and put a little wager on the outcome of Saturday night’s competition.
“We put money into a pot that’s going to be donated to charity and the league will match it so there’s a little side bet there for a good cause,” explained the Habs' 6-foot-4 defenseman. “If I was a betting man, though, I wouldn’t be putting money on me but who knows. I’m the underdog to say the least.”
If Komisarek does get a little case of pre-shot jitters, he can always look to a familiar face for a few words of encouragement – or a little trash talking. A veteran of the hardest shot contest, Souray had some words of advice for his former teammate.
“I’m sure Mike will be fine. Believe me, this stuff isn’t rocket science or anything,” said the ex-Canadiens blue-liner, who was clocked at 102.2 at the 2004 All-Star Weekend in Minnesota and hit 106.7 at a recent Oilers skills event in Edmonton. “You just skate out there and let it go. I’ve got my stick picked out; nothing major just one that I’m comfortable with. Hopefully it does the trick.”
While Souray was playing it cool, Komisarek had a feeling the gamesmanship would be cranked up a notch once the guys finally hit the ice.
“I’m going to be mic’ed up so things will have to stay pretty PG for T.V. on my end, but with that many hockey players, you know there’s going to be a lot of trash talking,” admitted the first-time All-Star.
Another former Montreal rearguard joining his one-time Habs blue line mates in the contest, Mark Streit, like Komisarek, is also playing the underdog card when it comes to predicting a winner. With his four competitors averaging roughly 6-foot-5, it’s no wonder the Switzerland native was feeling a little overshadowed.
“I’ve got a pretty good shot for my size, but I’m not as big as those guys so I know it’s going to be tough,” warned Streit. “Chara is the defending champion and he’s not getting any smaller, and I know all about Shelly’s shot from our time together in Montreal. All I can do is go out there and do my best.”
With so many heavy hitters all in one event, it really could be anyone’s race. And if all else fails for Komisarek, he knows he can always fall back on Plan B.
“Maybe I’ll just go in there and slip the radar guy 20 bucks or something. That’s not a bad option, either.” Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com Read also:Men among the starsKovy's bag of tricks Kovalev earns the All-Star "C" for the East Double duty for Price