MONTREAL — Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara came up with an idea prior to coming to All-Star weekend. And some lucky charity is going to reap the rewards.
Chara and the five other competitors in the Cisco NHL Hardest Shot contest, plus each player’s NHL team, have put up $1,000 a piece. And the league has also put up $6,000. So there will be $18,000 on its way to the favorite charity of the winning player once Saturday night’s competition is complete.
“It’s something that me and (Andrew Ference) came up with one night. We were having dinner and we were just talking about the whole skill competition and the All-Star weekend. And he said it would be a good idea and make it more interesting if we would make an extra kind of a bet. So I thought it was a really great idea,” Chara, the two-time defending champion in the event, said during the Eastern Conference All-Stars’ media availability today.
This year, Chara will be challenged by Mike Komisarek (Montreal), Sheldon Souray (Edmonton), Shea Weber (Nashville), Mark Streit (NY Islanders) and Vincent Lecavalier (Tampa Bay).
“For a good cause it’s a great thing,” said Komisarek. “I asked immediately, ‘how far are they shooting out?’ That’s the first thing, you’ve got to hit the net. Any time you can take a competition like that, a little friendly wager and turn it into a positive, making a donation to a charity, it’s a good thing.”
Added Streit: “I think it’s a great thing. Obviously it spices up the whole thing a little bit and it’s going to be exciting to see who has the hardest shot.”
The stiffest competition for Chara might come from Souray, who registered a 106.7-mile-per-hour shot during the Oilers’ team skills competition. But Komisarek is hoping to hold his own.
“I’ve got a couple sticks from Bauer that are a little stiffer. But I don’t know if that’s going to make a difference,” said the defenseman, who added that maybe his hometown radar-gun operator would be willing to help him out.
So, is Chara ready to defend his title?
“That’s the whole point is to make it really exciting and more competitive,” he said. “For sure, I would like to win it. But if I don’t, still it’s nice to have guys committed to that competition and getting some money on the board … it’s fun and I’m sure it’s a win-win situation.”