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Chara defends skills title with record

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The NHL SuperSkills competition was held at the RBC Center Saturday night and the three Boston Bruins representatives -- Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas and Tyler Seguin -- all participated. The highlight from the Bruins' All-Star trio and of the night was Chara winning his fourth straight hardest-shot title and breaking his own record of 105.4 miles per hour with a 105.9 mph shot.

Chara started off slow and looked like he might lose his title to Shea Weber, who had the lead after the first round. But Chara saved his best for his second-to-last shot, blasting it into the history books to send the RBC Center into a frenzy.

"It felt great!” a beaming Chara said. “Obviously, it was tough -- guys were shooting really hard and they pushed me all the way to the limit. So a lot of credit goes to them, especially Shea Weber. He was shooting incredibly well tonight.”

Chara said he didn’t know if he would actually get another shot at beating Weber and retaining his title.

“I wasn’t exactly sure what the rules were,” Chara admitted. “I knew there was some sort of, obviously, last final or something, so then I realized, OK, I have one more shot at this, and I tried to do my best. It did happen, so obviously, I was glad.”

Chara, who uses the latest Easton hockey stick available for the contest each time he’s in it, thinks that with stick technology and players evolving each year, the sky’s the limit.

“I think the limit is always going to be pushed, it’s just the nature of the business,” Chara said. “Obviously, records are meant to be broken, and who knows -- it could be all the way to 110 [mph]. It’s really the technology of the sticks and players getting stronger and bigger. The record could be pushed anywhere to that number, but who knows, maybe this [record] lasts a long time. I don’t know.”

The 2009 Norris Trophy winner was extremely honored by the reception he got from the sold-out RBC Center, where he has been booed as the enemy on plenty of occasions.

“It was awesome, I loved it," Chara said. "And, obviously, they gave me the extra energy and big thank you goes to them. It’s always overwhelming when you’re getting this kind of reception in away stadiums or [from] away fans, and it’s just incredible. It’s something that will always stick in your memories, and you cherish that.”

Chara realizes he won’t get that ovation on Tuesday at RBC Center when the Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes play their first game after the All-Star break.

“I’m sure it’s going to be a little bit different,” Chara said with a laugh. “But that’s just the way it is. You player your team, you compete and may the best team win.”

NOTES

  • Seguin also competed in the hardest-shot competition for Team Staal, which won the skills competition 33-22 against Team Lidstrom by winning five of six events. The rookie fared pretty well in his first All-Star event, clocking in at 97.1. Seguin was a bit surprised that Eric Staal asked him to be in the competition, but apparently Staal was impressed with Seguin’s shot in a similar competition at a Bauer event over the summer.

    “I didn’t ask Staal [about events] until today, and I looked at Staal and I was like, 'Hardest shot? Me?' And I was thinking something different. He just said that 'At the Bauer thing in the summer, you did a pretty decent job.' He said I had low-90s, and I can’t remember what I got but he said he had confidence in me.”

  • Seguin and Chara also participated in the shootout. Seguin shot wide and Chara was stopped -- by Thomas. The Bruins goalie had four saves in the shootout and was scored on four times, with another shot hitting the post. Chara didn’t let it rip on his turn, but said he wasn’t afraid to because he knows Thomas can handle it.

    “It’s tough to go against your own guy, he knows you pretty well,” Chara said. “I know how Timmy is good at what he does. I just tried what I tried and Timmy read it really well. I’ve done it before [let a slap shot go on Thomas] and that’s one good thing about Timmy is that he doesn’t mind. He’s similar [to Chara] -- he competes, and if I hit him, he takes it as it is and knows it’s just a part of the shootout.

  • In a surprise move, both teams decided to use a goalie in the fastest-skater competition, and Thomas faced off against Cam Ward. Thomas actually took a spill when rounding the corner, but was OK. Ward won the race by a good distance. Thomas was in good spirits afterward, though.

    “I started to lose one edge and tried to catch it with the other and that didn’t work, so down goes Thomas instead of down goes Frazier,” Thomas said with a smile.