Here's a story I wrote on Chara for The Hockey News back before the start of the season.
When Zdeno Chara was just getting his size 12 skates wet in the National Hockey League, fellow countryman Tomas Vokoun wasn't very impressed.
“When he came into the league, he was a very average player,'' the Capitals goalie said of Chara. “Not good at all.''
Look at him now.
Sure, it took Chara, a 6-foot-9 defenseman, a few years to find his way in the league.
Chara hit his stride with the Senators as a 24-year-old after being traded to Ottawa at the 2001 draft. The Islanders got Alexei Yashin in exchange for the second overall pick (Jason Spezza), Chara and Bill Muckalt.
Today, Chara is captain of the reigning Stanley Cup champions with one of the most feared shots in the league.
When the big Bruin uncorks, goalies around the league cringe. And they aren't the only ones.
Last April, Chara's booming slap shot took down Ryan Callahan of the Rangers when he had the audacity to try and block Chara.
“You have to respect a guy like that,'' Chara said after being told about Callahan breaking his ankle on impact.
How hard is Chara's slapper? He's the four-time defending hardest shot champ at All-Star Weekend, with his latest winning shot topping his previous record.
Chara, who left the Senators for Boston in 2006, had his first shot clocked at 105.9 mph at last season's skills competition in Raleigh.
Chara will go for a record fifth straight hard-shot titles this season in, coincidentally, Ottawa.
Aside from Chara, only Hall of Famer Al MacInnis has won the title four straight times.
“He has really worked on his game. He works as hard as anyone,'' said Vokoun, who also hails from the Czech Republic.
“He has plenty of strengths and it isn't just his shot. He's a very smart player. But I respect him for that work because he wasn't very good at all with the Islanders and now he could be the best defenseman in the league.''