Chara 'humbled, 'honored' to be named Norris finalist

Chara 'humbled, 'honored' to be named Norris finalist
April 28, 2014, 12:15 pm
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BOSTON – Zdeno Chara was named a Norris Trophy finalist for the sixth time in his NHL career on Monday, and has been named a finalist in three of the last four years in a true show of dominance with an era. Chara was named one of the three Norris finalists along with Nashville’s Shea Weber and Chicago’s Duncan Keith, and has won the award once back in 2008-09.

Despite all of the past nominations and winning the award as the league’s best defenseman once before, Chara has come to appreciate these kinds of things even more as he’s aged into one of the league’s elder statesmen at 37 years old.

“It’s obviously a huge honor. It’s one of those things that you’re very proud of, and you know it’s something that you need to have the whole team working toward the same direction, and working together,” said Chara. “It’s a reflection of the whole season: having a steady, strong season as a team. That’s why we have a number of guys nominated. I’ve very humbled.

“As you get older and you’ve been in the league for a while, you don’t realize how much you’re going to maybe miss [working to improve your game] once you’re gone. I’m not saying that I’m thinking about being gone or retiring, but I’m kind of realizing that the time isn’t always going to be there. I enjoy the going to practice, and I enjoy competing against the other guys in the games. I love the game. It’s a humbling game, and I love everything about it.”

As far as the cold, hard numbers go, Chara led a Boston defense that paced the Eastern Conference and ranked second in the NHL in goals against (177), helping the Bruins capture their second Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history and first since
1989-90.

He averaged a team-high 24:39 of ice time per game, nearly 3 minutes more than the next-closest player while thriving for half the season with Dennis Seidenberg out of the lineup and second-year defenseman Dougie Hamilton filling in as his partner. Chara also placed in the top 10 among NHL defensemen in goals (17), plus/minus (+25), power-play goals (10) and game-winning goals (3) while ranking high among the fancy stat lists in categories like relative Corsi, Quality of competition and offensive zone face off ratio.

What it all means is that Chara has put up good offensive stats for a defenseman while serving as the most dominant defensive defenseman in the league while shutting down other team’s top players.

Meanwhile Shea Weber is another big minute, two-way defenseman, but he had a negative plus-minus this season in Nashville, and Duncan Keith put up top shelf offensive numbers for Chicago while clearly not being utilized as a shutdown defender by the Blackhawks.

Peter Chiarelli certainly knows who he would be voting for while not shying at all away from his professional bias as general manager of the Boston Bruins.

“He’s the best defender in the league, and I don’t think anyone is close at defending,” said Chiarelli of Chara. “I think he deserves the nomination. I think he deserves the award. The other two are obviously very good players.”

The winner will be announced Tuesday, June 24, during the 2014 NHL Awards from Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. The 2014 NHL Awards will be broadcast by NBCSN in the United States and CBC in Canada.