All Aspects of Zdeno Chara’s Game Being Recognized With Shot at Both Norris and Messier Awards

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All Aspects of Zdeno Chara's Game Being Recognized With Shot at Both Norris and Messier Awards LAS VEGAS — The first thing anyone notices about Zdeno Chara will always be his size.

The 6-foot-9 defenseman is the tallest player in NHL history, after all.

But some of the Bruins captain's other attributes are being recognized as well, as Chara is up for a pair of trophies at the NHL Awards Wednesday night at The Palms in Las Vegas.

Chara's strong overall defensive play has been acknowledged with a nomination for the Norris Trophy, awarded annually to the top defenseman in the league, while his leadership skills have made him a finalist for the Mark Messier Leadership Award.

"Every trophy has a place in my heart," Chara said Tuesday at The Palms. "It's hard to describe or really explain where they rank. They're all so hard to get and achieve. We'll see what happens [Wednesday] night, but I'm very happy to be here again. It's a huge honor being nominated for another trophy. I'm humbled to be here."

Chara has already won the Norris once, taking home that trophy after the 2008-09 season, and has a chance at another after leading the league with a plus-33 to go along with 14-30-44 totals.

He'll face some tough competition, though, as Nashville's Shea Weber also had a strong all-around season and Detroit veteran Nicklas Lidstrom has won the award six times already.

Lidstrom, however, was quick to point out Chara's worthiness, and stressed the elements of Chara's game that often get overshadowed by his size and physical presence.

"I think he's very good with the puck," Lidstrom said. "I think he's better than people acknowledge. We don't see him a whole lot, but I watched him in the Finals and he's very good with the puck. He's good at making good outlet passes, hanging on to it to find someone open and he's got the patience with the puck. He's got the size and I think he's a strong skater. For a big man, I think he's very mobile. He's very hard to play against."

Philadelphia forward Ian Laperriere, who is a finalist for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey, also noted Chara's skill, though he couldn't avoid talking about the big Bruin blueliner's size completely.

"He's a big guy but he can skate and he's got such a big stick," Laperriere said. "He's a really good defenseman, but on top of it, he's really mean too. You don't see too many guys around like that. The good news for Bruins fans is he's in Boston, but the bad news is he's going to play against us and he's a tough guy to play against. He showed this year again that he has that chip on his shoulder. If you make him mad, well, he's going to hurt you."

Chara can bring the pain, but he also provides plenty of other assets to the Bruins, both on and off the ice. Despite being the subject of criticism at times in his role as captain, Chara has developed into an excellent leader. Those traits have finally been recognized with his nomination for the Messier Award.

"To be nominated for a trophy from a player, person and father like Mark Messier, it's a huge honor," Chara said. "I have to tell you, being a leader it's always about the team and it's never about yourself. I'm just trying to be the best I can for my teammates and help everybody as much as I can."

Chara also stressed that he has had plenty of help from the other veterans on the team in helping guide Boston to its first Cup in 39 years.

"I have so much help from our leadership group," Chara said. "We always talk about things and make decisions as a group of leaders. I'm just very privileged and lucky to have them. You just have to constantly be willing to learn and make some adjustments and grow as a leader."

For a man as tall as Chara, it's amazing how much he has continued to grow as a player and as a leader, and he has a chance to be recognized for both Wednesday night in Vegas.

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