"We actually talked about it a few weeks ago and he was like, 'Oh, I don't know if I'm going to make it this year,'" fellow Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "And I said, 'You'll see, you'll be up there again,' and sure enough, he made it again. And I think rightfully so. He's so dominant in his own end and offensively he always seems to chip in important goals and assists. That's what a leader and a Norris [caliber] defenseman is all about."
The Professional Hockey Writers Association obviously agrees. That organization votes for the Norris, which is awarded to the top defenseman in the NHL each season. On Monday, the three finalists for this season's award were announced, with Chara joining Nashville's Shea Weber and Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom in the final three.
"It's obviously a big honor," Chara said after Monday's practice at the Garden as the Bruins prepared for Tuesday's Game 6 in Montreal. "I'm very humbled and very thankful, especially after you consider how many guys had such a great season. I'm just very thankful that people who did vote recognized the definition of the Norris Trophy award."
The Norris has become something of an offensive defenseman award over the years, with the blueliners that put up the gaudiest point totals usually getting the most consideration. Chara does chip in offensively, but the Bruins captain's first priority is taking care of his own zone, something which he does as well as anyone in the NHL.
"It's something that I take a lot of pride in," Chara said. "I'm very competitive when it comes to defending top lines and playing against top lines. I know that it's not an easy job, but I really get after it every night. It's a big motivation for me every night to face such skilled and great players."
Chara won the Norris in 2009 and certainly has the credentials for another this season after leading the league with a plus-33 and putting up 14-30-44 totals with 111 blocked shots and 153 hits while averaging 25:26 of ice time in 81 games.
"Obviously he's a well-deserving player for a lot of reasons," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "He plays a lot of minutes. He also always plays against other teams' top lines. He's utilized as a shutdown D against the best players of other teams. And you look at his stats at the end of the year and he was a plus-33. That speaks for itself.
"If you're talking about Norris and talking about a defenseman who brings a lot, he's certainly one of them," Julien added. "And I don't think there's too many players in this league who will raise their hands and say they really enjoy playing against him."
But Chara does enjoy matching up against the best every night, and he was genuinely humbled to be back considered among the best at his position after an admittedly subpar season last year.
"It's nice being in that group again and being nominated," Chara said. "I know last year was probably not as strong as previous years, but as a team I think we all kind of had an off year. This year we were back on track again and everybody preformed with a lot of consistency."
Chara was as consistent as anyone, and that steady play in all facets of the game has once again earned him some recognition, even without the gaudy stats of some of his fellow blueliners.
"I know I'm not the extremely skilled defenseman who's going to put up 70 points on the board every year," Chara said. "But I know if I play my game, I give my team a good chance to win hockey games."
And if it gives Chara a chance to win more awards along the way, that's just fine, too.
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