By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
LAS VEGAS Its only appropriate that in the season when Zdeno Chara made his quantum leap as a leader that he was awarded the NHLs highest honor for leadership.
Chara finished third in the Norris Trophy voting for best defenseman behind winner Nicklas Lidstrom and Shea Weber, but the 6-foot-9 Bruins captain took home the Mark Messier Leadership Award after leading the Bruins to the Stanley Cup.
The award is bestowed in recognition of commitment and services to the charities in the community as well as to the player who leads by positive example with his on-ice performance, motivation of team members and dedication to community activities.
The rough-and-tumble Chara has always been a lead-by-example player on the ice and a charitable sort since arriving in Boston, and those qualities have only been enhanced by what he's done off the ice.
Messier solicited opinions from league officials and team executives as well as NHL fans in picking Chara, Phoenixs Shane Doan and Detroits Lidstrom as the finalists for this years award. The former Oilers and Rangers great eventually chose the 18th captain of the Bruins due to the great strides hes taken in becoming only the second European-born Captain to lead a team to the Cup. Charas extensive work with Right to Play, the Bruins PJ Drive and Cuts for a Cause charities in the city of Boston also helped his cause.
To be selected by somebody like Mark is an honor, said Chara. You have to be a true leader and it doesn't happen overnight. Coming to Boston was great. I'm lucky to be surrounded by other players. I learned from veterans from previous years and early in my career too . . . but it just takes time.
I'm at the point where I'm really myself and I know that to be a leader you need to have followers. That's what I had in Boston. I'm thankful to my teammates, obviously the coaching staff and the organization. They all believed in me. They know that we as a group can get a job done. It's a privilege. I take it to heart to do a good job on and off the ice -- and be fair and a hard worker.