On Jan. 29, 2011, Boston Bruins defenseman and captain Zdeno Chara set an NHL record for the fastest recorded slapshot in league history at that year’s All-Star Game. Chara’s display of strength and skill resulted in the Slovakian rocketing home a 105.9 miles per hour blast to win the competition and earn two points for Team Staal, led by Carolina Hurricanes forward Eric Staal. Chara’s shot broke the record held by Al Iafrate of 105 miles per hour, which soon became “Big Z’s” calling card, both in the league and in the annual All-Star game skills competition.
Chara, simply unable to settle with his already record-breaking mark, was again named to the All-Star game and its subsequent skills competition a year later on Jan. 29, 2012. Going toe-to-toe with his finals opponent from the previous season, Shea Weber, Chara was able to put up a scorching mark of 108.8 mph, shattering the number he had posted only a year prior, and far and away solidifying Chara’s spot as the hardest shooter in the history of the league.
In standard games, Chara’s slapshot was lethal, quick enough to get by every defenseman in the way and hard enough to blast by any goalie. Standing at 6 feet 9 inches and weighing 256 pounds, Chara is built like a skyscraper, unmoving in even some of the most severe conditions. At that level, Chara also qualifies to be listed as the tallest player in league history.
Considering Chara’s physicality, his innate ability to drive pucks at the net with absolute reckless abandonment comes as no surprise; Chara wields a stick that measures 67 inches, a figure that reads seven digits higher than the average adult-sized stick used by an everyday NHL player. His extreme reach advantage makes him an elite defenseman and allows for an even more intense bend on Chara’s stick’s shaft, resulting in added torque and an even more powerful slap shot heading directly at an opponent’s.
After winning the event five times in a row from 2007 to 2012, Chara continued to captain the Bruins until he was signed by the Washington Capitals following the 2019-20 regular season on a one-year contract. With Washington failing to offer the veteran a deal, the New York Islanders, the same team that drafted the giant himself, offered Chara a one-year deal. Today, he continues to play for the Islanders in what may be his final season as a professional.
Chara’s opponent Weber inevitably claimed the hardest shot crown in 2015, coming within 0.3 mph of Chara’s mark by hitting a 108.5 mph. Weber won the contest in both 2016 and 2017 as well, with slightly lower marks of 108.1 and 102.8 mph before conceding the title to Alexander Ovechkin the very next season. Ovechkin’s shot registered 101.3 mph and was good enough to earn him the crown for the season.
Ovechkin relinquished the crown the following year to his teammate, defenseman John Carlson, who managed to hit 102.8 mph on the gun. Weber was not done attempting to take the record away from Chara, with the veteran defenseman giving it one more shot in 2020. Weber was able to set himself apart from the remainder of the crowd and let everybody know that he’s still got it, hitting 106.5 mph on the gun, the highest mark since Weber’s own result in 2017.