Looks like one last hurrah for Zdeno Chara in the NHL All-Star's hardest shot competition isn't happening ... at least not this year.
During the 32 Thoughts segment on Hockey Day in Canada, Sportsnet's Jeff Marek reported that despite the NHL hoping Chara would be available for the skills competition this coming Friday, the big veteran defenceman won't be heading to Vegas.
"(The NHL) wanted him in the hardest shot, I think we all wanted to see Chara in the hardest shot again, maybe play an ambassadorial role at the All-Star skills," said Marek. "The future Hall of Famer, though, politely declined."
Chara won the hardest shot competition five consecutive years from 2007 to 2012 (2010 didn't have an All-Star game because of the Olympics), capping it off with a record-breaking 108.8 miles-per-hour slap shot in 2012. Chara held the record for eight years until Martin Frk of the Ontario Reign registered a 109.2 miles-per-hour shot at the AHL's All-Star weekend in 2020.
The 44-year-old has not played in an NHL All-Star game since 2012, which meant that he could not participate in the skills either. But recent changes by the NHL allowing non-All-Star players to participate in the skills, such as Trevor Zegras for the breakaway challenge, had hockey fans hoping Chara might return the competition he owned for years.
Chara's five hardest shot victories are tied for second-most all-time. Al MacInnis won the competition an astonishing six times in the 1990s, while Shea Weber has also won five times.
With the veteran on a one-year deal with the Islanders, his retirement could be around the corner, and this latest bit of news makes Chara catching MacInnis seem less likely.