Charitable Chara wins NHL's hardest-shot competition
Ovechkin wins breakaway challenge as league celebrates its best players
Last Updated: Saturday, January 24, 2009 | 11:01 PM ET
Defenceman Zdeno Chara celebrates winning the hardest-shot competition for the third straight year at the NHL All-Star skills night at Montreal on Saturday. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press) Zdeno Chara not only won the hardest shot competition for the third straight year at the NHL All Star game's SuperSkills night on Saturday in Montreal, it was also a victory for his favourite charity.
The Boston Bruins defenceman earned $24,000 for Right to Play, a worldwide sports group that uses games and fun to help children in poor countries.
Chara had put up $1,000 for the winner to give to any charity, and asked other players, teams, the league and the NHL player's union to contribute funds as well.
With the money on the line, a blast of 105.4 miles an hour (169.5 km/h) beat Shea Weber's 103.4 (166.3 km/h for the Nashville defender) and broke the all-time record previously held by Al Iafrate and set in 1993.
"I'm really happy with the result and happy that the money goes to charity," Chara told Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada.
An enthusiastic sell-out crowd of more than 21,000 came out on a freezing night to watch 60 of the league's best players in a series of skills competitions, with a mini-game featuring the top rookies and second-year players dropped in the middle of the proceedings.
Among the other winners:
- Edmonton's Andrew Cogliano took the fastest-skater competition, beating Philadelphia's Jeff Carter.
- Superstar Alex Ovechkin of Washington won the creative breakaway event, easily outpolling five competitors in a text message vote by fans across North America.
- Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin bested Ottawa's Dany Heatley in a playoff round for most accurate shot.
- Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes scored five times on seven tries to win the breakaway elimination that involved all the skaters and goaltenders there for the weekend.
The biggest cheer of the night came at the start when Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier, at the centre of trade rumours surrounding the hometown Montreal Canadiens, received a 30-second standing ovation from the hopeful crowd.
Lightning officials continue to deny a deal between the two teams is imminent.
Cogliano jets around the rink
The evening opened with the fastest-skater competition, one that featured a six-pack of young stars.
Carter went second and seemed to have it wrapped up with a 14.42-second mark for one lap around the ice. But Cogliano, starting last, took the trophy away with a time of 14.31 set up by excellent acceleration out of the corner.
Ovechkin gets points for creativity
Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals shows the style that is making him one of the most popular players in the NHL. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press) The breakaway challenge was somewhat anti-climactic after all the pre-weekend chat revolving around the event.
Firing against a 21-year-old "mystery goaltender" who had been brought in from a local Junior AA team on the West Island, six entries mostly fumbled and stumbled their way toward the net in an attempt to replicate NBA-style trick ballin'.
Patrick Kane's best entry was a pool cue-like try with the puck trapped under the butt-end of the young Blackhawks' inverted stick.
Martin St. Louis of Tampa Bay had a nice spinning try that ended with a baseball-like swing into a puck in the air.
Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaff had a pretty one, going around the net with the puck on his stick blade before flipping it up under the bar on the other side.
Hometown favourite Alex Kovalev kept trying for the soccer thing — bouncing the puck up off his head before firing it in. It didn't work.
Steven Stamkos of Tampa Bay has a lot of good stuff on YouTube that would have fit in nicely here. But this wasn't his night as a between-the-leg attempt went nowhere.
That left defending champion Ovechkin, who added some creative theatrics to the proceedings.
After a couple tries, the Washington superstar skated over to rival Malkin, who had a Tilley-style hat (complete with Canadian flag), crazy sunglasses and an extra stick for him.
Coming in on the young goalie with both sticks, Ovechkin dumped one and scored with the other.
A vote across the country by text messaging gave the Capitals' star an easy victory with over 42 per cent support.
Ovechkin told Elliotte Friedman he voted for Stamkos.
Malkin shows his shooting eye
After the rookies beat the sophmores 9-5 in the three-on-three mini-game, Malkin went four-for-four in the first part of the shooting accuracy drills, and hit three of the quartet in the extra round to beat Heatley.
The defending titlist, Toronto's Tomas Kaberle, didn't make it out of the preliminary round.
The competition featured the same four-targets-in-four-corners set-up used by countless youngsters on streets and rinks around the world.
Doan surprises himself
Finally there was Doan, who is normally not nearly the best breakaway shooter on his own team, let alone in the league.
The shootout saw all four all-star goalies facing the 56 shooters in a one-miss-means-elimination format.
Five rounds in, Doan was left up against Marc Savard of the Boston Bruins and the Phoenix captain was able to beat Anaheim's J.S. Giguere for the victory, wrapping up the night.
"Guys on our team are probably more surprised than anybody," Doan said.
The NHL All-Star game goes Sunday night at 6 p.m. ET on CBC Sports and CBCSports.ca.