Sens blueliner real hot shot

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:07 PM ET

As far as franchise marks go, never has there been a hot potato like Christoph Schubert had his fingers on yesterday.

One minute, the rookie defenceman was setting a new Senators standard by rifling a slap shot at 102.1 m.p.h. during yesterday's SuperSkills competition at Scotiabank Place.

A few breaths later, stepping forward was Zdeno Chara, who swiftly proceeded to 1.4-up his teammate with a rocket that traveled at 103.5 m.p.h.

Easy come, easy go, right Schubie?

"At least I had the record for 12 seconds," the genuine German said, chuckling in the dressing room afterwards.

"Look at it this way," offered Mike Fisher from the next stall. "Second place means you're the first loser."

Such was the spirit at this fun event that attracted an estimated 15,000 fans -- an impressive number yes, but also one that should grow by 5,000 next year as word continues to spread of its entertainment value.

While Team (Wade) Redden's whites edged Team (Daniel) Alfredsson's reds 14-13, the loudest bang for the buck (tickets were $7.50 in advance) came from a long twig owned by the Big Zee.

Chara later explained developing a hard shot -- the sexiest of all the competitions because of its muscle man implications -- has just as much to do with learning the proper technique as size or strength.

Whereas former "hardest shot" winner Andre Roy claimed he honed his skill by firing rocks at passing cars as a kid, Chara said most helpful to him was a creation by his father, who took a small pot and placed one of Zdeno's sticks in it, along with cement mix. When the mix hardened, Chara had a very heavy stick that he couldn't play with, but one that did obvious wonders for his wrists and arms.

"That," said Chara, revealing a secret to his success Ottawa parents will appreciate more than Roy's tip, "and shoveling snow helps, too."

The competition started with a puck control relay that saw Team Red claim victory when Bryan Smolinski lost the puck because of what Redden claimed to be a "chip" in the ice. Alfredsson gave his team a 2-0 lead, eking out Redden in the 1-on-1 challenge that followed.

Next was the much-anticipated fastest skater competition, which was won again by Antoine Vermette. While he didn't match his team record of 13.79 seconds, the flashy winger did post a strong 14.20 time, a split second ahead of Fisher's 14.217.

"He got his hair cut, that's why he beat me," quipped Fisher. "And he fasted for two days."

Winning the shooting accuracy for Team White were Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza, who both connected on four of five shots. At the other end of the spectrum was Team Red's Peter Schaefer, who hit on only one of six tries. And you wonder why Schaefer, an excellent boards man, is such a reluctant shooter.

Co-emcee Dean Brown explained that the competition was a difficult one for Schaefer who in the off-season joined the "People Against Ill Treatment Of Styrofoam."

"To get one really broke his heart," said Brown.

Heatley told the audience "I just wanted to beat Alfie," the linemate he trails by just one right up near the top of the NHL goal scoring race. Alfredsson needed six shots to hit the four targets.

WINNING SPIRIT

Overall, Team White won partly on its spirit, specifically the way Spezza, Heatley et all were standing on the bench and banging sticks on the boards as they cheered on the minor hockey players representing their side in the fastest skater competition.

"Emotion is a big part of the game," agreed Redden.

Fisher felt there was more to it than that. "We battled hard, we showed a lot of character," he said. "But they had more skill guys, and it is a skills competition."

As Redden hoisted a big, familiar looking trophy for all to see at the end, fans had to imagine they'll be witnessing a similar scene at Scotiabank Place in the spring.

"That didn't go through my mind at the time," Redden said when asked about the possibility of the Cup lifting being a trial run. "There is a bigger one we want to be hoisting, but it was pretty nice to get the win today.

"Team Red was pretty high on itself but now we have the bragging rights around the room for awhile."

The highlight of the day came courtesy of Vermette, who performed a nifty manoeuvre to beat Ray Emery in the breakaway competition. Imagine, first he dropped the puck behind him, then kicked it up between his legs to his backhand, then left it out there to slide it into the net while he cruising the other way. Very sweet.

DON.BRENNAN@OTT.SUNPUB.COM


Videos

Photos