Chara Takes Home Messier Award

When Bruins captain Zdeno Chara laces up his skates, he physically becomes the tallest player to ever take the ice. But the Bruins defenseman stands tall in other ways, as well, evidenced in his 2011 Mark Messier Leadership Award win Wednesday night.

The award was presented by NHL Hall of Famer Mark Messier to honor an individual who leads by positive example through on-ice performance, motivation of team members and a dedication to community activities and charitable causes. Chara was selected over two other finalists, Shane Doan of the Coyotes and Nicklas Lidstrom of the Red Wings.

The Boston blueliner nabbed his newest trophy after an impressive season that culminated in another impressive prize- the Stanley Cup. Chara led the entire NHL in the regular season with a +/- rating of 33, forming a formidable defensive pairing with Dennis Seidenberg. Big Z intimidated opponents with 153 hits, 111 blocked shots and 32 takeaways, and netted 14 goals and 30 assists for 44 points in the regular season, the most of any Bruins defenseman in any category.

Big Zee carried his brawn into the postseason, contributing 2-7-9 totals and a team-high +/- rating of 16. The captain of the Spoked-B’s also led his team physically, adding 56 hits and 32 blocked shots. It all culminated in Chara raising the Cup to (literally) new heights, the second European captain to ever claim hockey’s most coveted trophy.

Chara’s leadership doesn’t stop when he leaves the ice. The 6’9” defenseman is an Athletic Ambassador for Right to Play, an international humanitarian organization that trains community leaders as coaches to use sport in fostering health, life skills, and promoting peace for children in some of the most disadvantaged areas in the world. Chara’s work with the charity took him to Africa for two weeks in July 2008, where he spent time in Mozambique and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

—-Elizabeth Traynor

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