BOSTON — Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was named one of three finalists for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defensemen on Monday, and the Boston blueliner had a fairly predictable reaction to the news.
Chara was understated and humble after learning he’d be a finalist, and the big defenseman was also quick to credit his teammates for helping him achieve a seemingly individual honor.
“It’s obviously a huge honor,” Chara said Monday in a news conference at TD Garden. “It’s one of those things that you’re very proud of. It’ something that you need to have the whole team working toward the same direction and working together. It’s a reflection of the whole season, having a steady and strong season as a team. That’s why we have a number of guys honored. I’m very humbled, and it’s a huge honor to be nominated.”
Chara’s defensive prowess is well-known. He’s widely considered one of the best defensive players in the entire game, and that’s still true even at the age of 37. He also contributes on the offensive end. Chara’s 40 points were tied for the most among Bruins defenseman. That’s good offensive production from the back end, but it might be not be enough to win the award. The Norris has been handed out to D-men with much better offensive numbers in recent years. The other two finalists — Chicago’s Duncan Keith and Nashville’s Shea Weber — both have better offensive stats than Chara.
“I think with Z, he doesn’t have the sexy stats,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Monday. “So not it doesn’t surprise me, but it’s a little disappointing. He doesn’t have that coast-to-coast ability. It doesn’t really surprise me. To defend is so difficult. There are very few people who love doing it, and he loves doing it.”
Chara’s impact can’t necessarily be seen through traditional statistics. He does, however, constantly draw the toughest defensive assignments and is looked on to slow the opposition’s top players and lines. The Boston captain isn’t willing to sacrifice that important task to add to his offensive totals.
“I’m not going to be taking risks playing against top lines. I’m going to do it the right way and play the game the right way,” Chara added. “I always take a lot of pride in my defensive game. I want to be strong defensively and take care of my zone defensively before I jump up and help the offense. Obviously you have to be able to do both, but I’m not going to be chasing chances just because I want to get more points. I like to really hard and enjoy compete against top lines and top players in this league. I want to do it the right way and that’s the way it’s always been.”
Chara has won the award once, as he took home the hardware in 2009. He also finished second in voting in 2004, and he finished in third place in both 2008 and 2009. He joins teammates Patrice Bergeron (Selke Trophy) and Tuukka Rask (Vezina Trophy) as awards finalists.