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Chara sets record while keeping Hardest Shot title

by Erin Nicks

KANATA, Ont. -- Patrick Kane may have been Superman at the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday, but Zdeno Chara was the master of speeding bullets.

Chara set a new record in the BlackBerry Hardest Shot event, shooting the puck at a blistering 108.8 mph. The Bruins' captain beat his own record of 105.9 mph, set last year. He beat Nashville's Shea Weber in the finals of the event, which has been dominated by the pair for several years. Weber also broke the old mark by firing a slap shot that hit an even 106 mph.

"Sometimes you don't look exactly at the numbers," Chara said after winning the hardest shot title for the fifth straight time. "Sometimes you just want to win Obviously (Weber's) a great player in this League, and he has a really hard shot. We've been in the (hardest shot) finals together for the past few years. Really, I don't go out there and try to get motivated that much. You just try to go out and do your best."


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Chara also was touched by the response of the hometown crowd -- he spent four seasons with the Senators before signing with Boston in the summer of 2006.

"The standing ovation was very much appreciated," he said. "And to get the record in Ottawa where I played so much time and had great years was very nice."

The new record is nice, but Chara has designs on breaking his mark next year.

"Could I top 110 mph? We'll see," he said. "It's always my motto: I want to be better every season.

"I just keep it consistent. I don't try and complicate it. I try and keep it as easy as I can. There are things that you learn over the years on how to approach the puck, the swing and skating into it and then you have to do all of those things in a split second."

Daniel Alfredsson, Chara's former teammate and captain of the opposing team -- was impressed.

"(Chara's) shot -- 108.8, it's ridiculous," Alfredsson said. "I was really happy with my shot, 101.3 (mph), and I tried to lean into it, but obviously he's a big guy and he's so strong. He can use a stick that's so stiff that I can't even flex, and that's credit to him."

Weber could do nothing but tip his helmet -- and perhaps hope that Chara slows down one year.

"All I can do is keep getting better," he said. "I keep getting better every year, so if (Chara) hits a plateau and stops maybe I can keep catching him."

Jason Spezza, who participated in the event for Team Alfredsson, admitted that after a point, even the players just have to hang out and watch the show.

"Everybody shoots and then you just sit and watch Big Z," Spezza said. "Nobody can touch him and how hard he shoots. Shea shot 106 and he was (nearly) three miles slower, so that's pretty impressive."

Even with a slapper that has now reached 106 mph, Weber admits he may be hard-pressed to win the event until Chara hangs up his stick.

"Will I ever win?" he asked with a laugh. "Not while he's around."
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