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Hardest Shot Competition: 3 Top Moments

We look back at the three most memorable moments in the history of the NHL's Hardest Shot Competition

by Dan Marrazza @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

Ever since it debuted in the inaugural NHL All-Star Skills Competition in Pittsburgh in 1990, the Hardest Shot Contest has been a mainstay event in the contest.

After all, the concept is simple. The biggest, strongest players in the game line up, gather a full head of steam and smash the hardest slap shot that they possibly can into a vacant goal. Most velocity wins.

The allure, however, of this competition has grown as the years have passed based on simple science.

For example, when Al Iafrate won the contest in 1990, his winning shot was 96 mph. A year later, Al MacInnis took the crown at 94 mph.

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This is in comparison to modern contests, where the winners have clocked in at more than 108 mph in each of the past three years.

The evolution of fitness training, coupled with new, cutting edge technology which has seen that all but extinction of wooden sticks in favor of the composite models, allows players to generate speeds on their shots unheard of 20 years ago.

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Zdeno Chara holds the record at 108.8 mph.

Will this be year someone tops 110 mph? Perhaps.

But before this contest starts on Saturday night, we look back at our three most memorable moments in Hardest Shot competition history.

Not necessarily the fastest speeds ever generated, but the most memorable entries.

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1. Zdeno Chara Breaks The Record

In 2007, Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara broke through as the champion of this competition, winning his first of five straight Hardest Shot contests.

At the time, his winning shot was a respectable 100.4 mph, which was solid, but nowhere close to Al Iafrate's longstanding record of 105.2 mph set in 1993.

Chara's 2012 entry of 108.8 mph is currently the record in this contest. But as for most memorable, we turn to 2009, when Chara broke Iafrate's 16-year record by .2 mph, thrilling the crowd at Montreal's Bell Centre.

 

Watch: Youtube Video

 

2. Al Iafrate Starts A Legacy

When this contest started in the 1990s, the Als, Iafrate and MacInnis, dominated.

Iafrate, a defenseman mostly with the Washington Capitals, sizzled, both with his propensity to light cigarettes with blowtorches during intermissions and his ability to blast the hardest slap shots of his day.

Iafrate won three of the first five competitions. MacInnis, first of the Calgary Flames and then St. Louis Blues, won the two in between, and five more contests throughout his Hall of Fame career.

The highlight of all the Al's hardest shots was 1993, when Iafrate obliterated the previous record of 96 mph by clocking in at 105.2 mph.

The record would stand for 16 years.

 

Watch: Youtube Video 

 

Iafrate had the best hair in the league, too.

 

3. From A To 'Z'

 

When 6-foot-9, 240-pound Zdeno Chara walked away with five straight victories in this contest, it looked like he couldn't be beaten.

But over the past two years, Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber (now of the Montreal Canadiens) has emerged as the current champion, clocking in at more than 108 mph each year.

His 2015 dethroning of Chara is our third most memorable Hardest Shot moment.

 

Watch: Youtube Video

 

All-Time Hardest Shot Winners

1990: Al Iafrate/Toronto Maple Leafs (96 mph)
1991: Al MacInnis/Calgary Flames (94 mph)
1992: Al MacInnis/Calgary Flames (93 mph)
1993: Al Iafrate/Washington Capitals (105.2 mph)
1994: Al Iafrate/Washington Capitals (102.7 mph)
1996: Dave Manson/Winnipeg Jets (98 mph)
1997: Al Macinnis/St. Louis Blues (98.9 mph)
1998: Al MacInnis/St. Louis Blues (100.4 mph)
1999: Al MacInnis/St. Louis Blues (98.5 mph)
2000: Al MacInnis/St. Louis Blues (100.1 mph)
2001: Frederik Modin/Tampa Bay Lightning (102.1 mph)
2002: Sergei Fedorov/Detroit Red Wings (101.5 mph)
2003: Al MacInnis/St. Louis Blues (98.9 mph)
2004: Adrian Aucoin/New York Islanders & Sheldon Souray/Montreal Canadiens (102.2 mph) 
2007: Zdeno Chara/Boston Bruins (100.4 mph)
2008: Zdeno Chara/Boston Bruins (103.1 mph)
2009: Zdeno Chara/Boston Bruins (105.4 mph)
2011: Zdeno Chara/Boston Bruins (105.9 mph)
2012: Zdeno Chara/Boston Bruins (108.8 mph)
2015: Shea Weber/Nashville Predators (108.5 mph)
2016: Shea Weber/Nashville Predators (108.1 mph)

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