Hockey is able to excite fans through the rare combination of power and speed. There are many aspects of the game that showcase this blend of skill, but none more so than the slap shot. The average NHL player can and often does possess many different skills. He may be a great skater or a great body checker, but none of those skills strike as much fear in an opposing team like the prospect of having to face a player who can really fire the puck.
Only a goalie can truly tell you what goes on in their mind when they see someone wind up who is known to have a blistering slap shot. They crouch down a little tighter, they try and focus on the puck just a little more, but most of all, they have to fight that voice in their head that says, “this could really hurt”. When a player releases a soft wrist shot or backhand they are completely focused on stopping the puck, but when a heavy shooter releases a slap shot they have to trust that their equipment will be able to withstand the impact. Making saves is done in a fraction of a second and any distraction or second thought could be the difference between a goal and a save and subsequently a win or a loss.
Coaches give warnings about certain players who are known to have big slap shots and instruct their own players to stop them from shooting or somehow summon the superhuman courage to block the shot. With the players in the NHL today being bigger and stronger then ever before and the technological advances that have been made to hockey sticks, the slap shot is more deadly then ever before. When a player with a hard shot pulls back on his stick you can hear the crowd hold its breath in anticipation of the rocket they are about to see and few other plays in all of sports can illicit such a reaction.
Here are the top 10 hardest slapshots in NHL history
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10 Brett Hull
There may not be a player on this list that is more associated with the slap shot then Brett Hull. The Golden Brett as he was called in reference to his famous father Bobby "The Golden Jet" had the right DNA to produce a terrific slap shot. When it came to taking a slap shot, Brett had the Michael Jordan effect. After every goal he scored by way of the slap shot, which accounted for most of his 741 career goals, everyone would ask aloud, "how was he left so wide open to take the shot?" People could not understand how such a lethal shooter was not covered by a defender all the time. Through a hall of fame career, there are plenty of coaches who asked themselves that question.
9 Steven Stamkos
Stamkos is at the top of the list when discussing the game's current great players and goal scorers. He has incredible speed and his stick handling, vision, as well as the physical aspect to his game which is underrated. A big reason that Stamkos's other talents are overlooked is because people like to focus on his powerful slap shot. The Lightning powerplay is centered around having Stamkos unleash a one timer from just inside the blueline. A goalie who has to move across his crease and then try and quickly react to a Stamkos slap shot is a big reason why teams try to stay out of the penalty box when playing Tampa Bay.
8 Al Iafrate
Iafrate was a big and fast defenceman in the 1980's and early 1990's playing primarily for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals with short stints in Boston and San Jose before retiring. Iafrate will always be known as the first winner of the hardest shot at the inaugural NHL All Star Skill Competition. He would be a repeat winner routinely clocking over 100 mph on his slap shots. In the 1993 skills competition he won the hardest shot with a 105.2 mph blast, a record that stood for 16 years. With sticks that are used today, it's not hard to imagine Iafrate reaching unseen numbers on the radar gun with one of his famous slap shots.
7 Sheldon Souray
Sheldon Souray's offensive contributions were always qualified by the belief that he was not a very good defender. He may have been seen as a liability when he didn't have the puck, but there is no doubting how dangerous he was with the puck. Playing for the Montreal Canadians in 2006-07 Souray scored 26 goals from the point and 19 of those came on the power play, a record for defencemen. It is possible that Souray could have scored more goals with his booming shot from the point, but a little issue he had from time to time with accuracy.
6 Alex Ovechkin
Not many players have entered the NHL with as much hype surrounding them as Ovechkin and even fewer have challenged Crosby as the best player on the planet. The Great Eight as he has come to be known, shows such exuberance after scoring that rival fans hate to lose to him. Of all the great shooters in the NHL, Ovie seems to put all of his body behind each shot. You'll often see a leg jerk back and up and it's common for him to completely lose his balance after taking a slap shot. This uninhibited and wild style of shooting seems to indicate that an Alex Ovechkin slap shot is intended to go past the goalie, through the net and get wedged into the end boards.
5 Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion
A list of the hardest slap shots in NHL history would be incomplete without Boom Boom Geoffrion. It is often disputed as to who invented the slap shot. Little boys and girls have been slapping at rocks with sticks for countless years, but there is no doubt about who popularized the slap shot and made it the weapon of choice it is today. His nickname alone can attest to the legend of Geoeffrion's slap shot, as the first boom was heard when he connected with the puck and the second boom came from the sound heard after the puck hit the end boards. Geoffrion was a prolific scorer on some historic Montreal Canadien teams of the 1950's and 1960's and many of those goals were due to his heavy slap shot.
4 Shea Weber
Shea Weber's slap shot cannot fully be appreciated in real time. To get the most accurate understanding of just how hard Weber's slap shot is, you need to watch it in slow motion replay and express thanks that Weber plays in an era with high definition cameras and the ability to watch an event over again, frame by frame. When watching a Shea Weber slap shot in slow motion, the puck still seems to be travelling at an impressive speed, but what is truly amazing is that the goalie never even moves. The puck goes from Weber's stick to the back of the net and it looks as if the goalie is frozen in time. It is the goalie's non-reaction and surprise at being scored on that shows just how hard and fast Weber's slap shot is.
3 Bobby Hull
Brett had to get it from somewhere and he did; one of the best of all time. Bobby Hull was letting clappers go when curved stick blades were just being introduced into the game and before rules were put in place to restrict the degree of the curve. Goalies had to deal with a slap shot that looked more like a canon and with the added twist of dipping and diving and curving all over the place because of the extreme bend in Hull's stick blade. You know your slap shot is special when the league makes a rule limiting the degree of the curve to a stick blade because it is seen as unfair to goalies. How many players can say their slap shot changed the game?
2 Al MacInnis
Al McInnis' slap shot was so powerful he might be the only player in the history of the game who was a legitimate threat to score from the neutral zone. He was crowned the NHL's hardest shot a record seven times at the all-star game skills competition, he won that title for the 7th time at the age of 39. No one understood just how hard McInnis shot the puck more than his own teammates and his own goalies who often had to remind him to ease up in practice so no one would get hurt from one of his famous slappers.
1 Zdeno Chara
Chara must seem like a monster out of a child's fairy tale to opposing teams and goalies. He is listed at 6-feet-9 (but probably closer to seven feet on skates) and 260 pounds. He is the son of an Olympic wrestler and Chara is notorious for his exercise regime that helps amplify his herculean like strength. All of these elements translate into winning the NHL's hardest shot competition the last five years as well as holding the NHL record for the hardest slap shot at a whopping 108.8 mph.
Early in his career because of Chara's imposing size, he was put in front of the net on the power play to screen goalies and dare opposing defencemen to try and move him from the front of the crease. That was seen as a prudent strategy and worked to some success, but then someone said maybe we should just let the big fella shoot and now the Bruins only put Chara in front of the net when they're trying to break a long power play drought. Otherwise you'd be insane to take away Chara's big blast.
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