OTTAWA -- Soon after Zdeno Chara walked into the room, he whipped out his phone and sent a text message to teammate Tyler Seguin. Chara had to ask Seguin if he would be cool doing the All-State NHL Breakaway Challenge on Saturday night at the 2012 Molson Canadian All-Star Skills Competition.
Chara and his assistant captain, Joffrey Lupul, didn't necessarily need help in picking which player does what for Team Chara in the skills competition at Scotiabank Place on Saturday night, but they also wanted to avoid putting any of the guys in an awkward, uncomfortable position.
However, soon after Chara had his phone in his hand, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan walked into the room. Bettman greeted Chara and Shanahan quickly offered his opinion on whom Chara should select as the rookie to take part in the Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater.
"Greening just won the Ottawa competition," Shanahan said, referring to Senators rookie Colin Greening.
Lupul went to the board, stuck Greening's name up, and Chara offered Shanahan a thank you for the help. Lupul, though, then saw he had a text message from Phil Kessel asking him to not put him in the Fastest Skater competition.
He ignored it and put him on the board as the first forward up. He even ignored the second text from Kessel that read, "You better be joking."
"He's one of the fastest guys in the League," Lupul said with a smile.
Chara and Lupul continued their selections, making sure to discuss and agree on each pick before the name went on the white board. Chara had to convince Lupul to be one of the right-handed one-timer shooters in the G Series NHL Skills Challenge Relay. He also didn't pick Seguin for the Breakaway Challenge, but he did put him in the Tim Hortons NHL Elimination Shootout.
The two All-Stars spent a lot of time formulating their roster for the Challenge Relay. With only three openings remaining, NHL Hockey Operations Manager Rob Blake, who was overseeing the selections, had to remind them both that the rules said they had to pick two rookies for that competition. They moved a few names around and got Cody Hodgson and Gabriel Landeskog in the mix.
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Once that was done, they rolled through the contestants for the Breakaway Challenge and the Blackberry Hardest Shot. However, the Canadian Tire NHL Accuracy Shooting competition stumped them for a while as they tried to make sure participation was evenly porportioned.
When they came down to the final event, the Elimination Shootout, Lupul asked Chara if he wanted to go.
Chara quickly said no way, and filled out the rest of the rest of the roster, taking more than 20 minutes at the conclusion to make sure they had everyone involved and taking part in the proper events. Chara even went through everybody's name to make sure all of the All-Star skaters were in at least two competitions.
"I don't know, what do you think?" Chara asked rhetorically. "We're taking forever. We should be done. It's hard to please everybody."
As Chara continued to contemplate his list, Daniel Alfredsson and Henrik Lundqvist were waiting outside the room. Fifty minutes after they started, Chara and Lupul were finally done. They left as the Swedish duo entered.
Alfredsson and Lundqvist quickly went to work after Blake's primer. Their selections took 35 minutes.
They started with the Hardest Shot competition and immediately grabbed Weber's name plate and put it right next to Chara's on the white board. At last year's Skills competition, Chara set the record with a 105.9 mph shot and Weber was second with 104.8. Jason Spezza went on the board for Hardest Shot next, but they moved on to the Fastest Skater competition and immediately put Carl Hagelin on the board as the rookie.
Alfredsson said he thinks Hagelin will win the event. Lundqvist begged off from being the goalie for the Fastest Skater, so Alfredsson gave it to Jonathan Quick.
"I'm not that fast," said Lundqvist, who also chose to place Brian Elliott as the goalie in the Breakaway Challenge.
The discussion on their picks for the Skills Challenge Relay started in Swedish. Picking for this competition proved to be quite difficult, as it was for Team Chara, because the Swedes had to contemplate right- and left-handed shots, who should take a one-timer from where on the ice, and where to fit in the two rookies that neither captain knows very well.
After finally getting through the Challenge Relay, they plowed through the Elimination Shootout contestants.
"Does it look good," Alfredsson asked Lundqvist?
"This is good," Lundqvist said before shaking hands with Alfredsson.