The NHL All-Star Skills Competition is scheduled for Saturday night at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, and we couldn’t be more excited.
It truly is one of the greatest displays of hockey skill, player personally and friendly competition. And it stands in stark contrast to the following day’s All-Star Game, which is 60 minutes of guys skating through hangovers, wondering why they didn’t fake an injury to hang out in the Bahamas.
The skills competition began in 1990, and through the years we’ve had events appear and then drop out – we’re looking at you, puck control relay.
There are six events scheduled for the 2015 NHL All-Star Game; here they arem ranked by how awesome they are:
6. Amp NHL Hardest Shot
This is just a super boring event overall, save for the usual “will anyone be able to knock off the military-cannon-taken-human-form in the finale?” and/or “will military-cannon-taken-human-form break his own record?” drama.
They’ve held the event 19 times, and only eight different players have won the darn thing, including a tie between Sheldon Souray and Adrian Aucoin in 2004. The rest of the time, the event exists so we can marvel at the mutant freak powers of guys like Al MacInnis and Zdeno Chara. It’s like watching a strongman competition where every year the winner attempts to lift a slightly larger car off the ground. But in the end, it's still just a dude doing the same thing over and over and...
The “Hardest Shot” would be infinitely better if the NHL used the KHL’s radar gun, which we’re pretty sure would measure Shea Weber’s best attempt at Ludicrous Speed.
5. Discover NHL Shootout
You know why Thanksgiving is the best?
Because you sit around all day eating comfort food until your belt bursts, and then you fall into a deep slumber fueled by wine and Tryptophan as you watch someone try and humiliate the Cowboys. It's pretty much the perfect day.
The NHL Shootout in the skills competition used to be Thanksgiving. Once a year, we watched the League’s best and brightest battle in a series of rapid-fire shootout attempts. It was special.
Then the NHL decided that Americans hated tie games and turned the skills competition into the mechanism through which a game’s victor would be determined after 65 minutes of stalemate. And many of us realized that turkey, stuffing and pie every night of the season was slowly killing our appetite.
The other bummer about this event: They dropped the “elimination shootout” aspect of it, in which players that failed on attempts were eliminated until one man was King of the Shootout.
The last gasp of an outdated concept is gimmickry, and this event is no exception: This season introduces the Discover Card puck, which if scored counts as two points. Coming to an overtime shootout near you soon!
4. Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater
This event is viscerally exhilarating and has the advantage of having different winners nearly every season. But it gets knocked down a couple of pegs for being restricted to the players in the All-Star Game, thus robbing us of a true “fastest man in the NHL” contest.
And also, for no other reason than a burning hatred of fun, they dumped the goalie races.
I mean, they picked Jonathan Quick to race because of his last name. This event was the greatest …
3. Gatorade NHL Skills Challenge Relay
This is a fun one, testing various skills for skaters and goalies. You have 14 skaters and two goalies from each team. Each shooter has to score on two one-timers; control the puck through a series of cones; control the puck through a series of pucks; and each goalie has to score two goals. The fastest time wins.
Wait, we missed a step.
Oh, right, the thing that sucks the life out of us every time they run this relay.
Little. Tiny. Nets.
You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll kiss a good 3-4 minutes of your life goodbye as you watch really, really great players miss these small nightmare caves with their passes.
2. DraftKings NHL Accuracy Shooting
First off, the gist of this event is seeing things get obliterated, which speaks to our basic human desire for carnage. It's like Michael Bay directed an NHL skills competition.
But shot accuracy is simply the best hockey skill event of All-Star Weekend, as the best snipers in the NHL battle to see who snipes the best in the shortest amount of time. It’s head-to-head, my kung fu is better than yours awesomeness. Real pride on the line. And, again, the goal is to break stuff.
But it’s not the even that perfectly captures the goofy fun of all-star weekend…
1. Honda NHL Breakaway Challenge
Yes, it’s the pandering to the crowd prop comedy event!
Three shooters and one goalie from each team participate, and shootout rules do not apply. It’s all trick shots and showmanship. It’s Alex Ovechkin is obnoxious sunglasses and Patrick Kane in a Superman cape. It manages to do the impossible, which is to give these players some semblance of a personality and sense of individualism!
Just to underscore how ridiculously wonderful this even is, the winners will not be determined by a panel of trick shot experts or their peers. They will be determined as “the in-arena and television audiences will vote via Twitter.”
Really, any event whose winner can be determined by the vote of @HawksLvr69 has perfectly captured the spirit of the thing.
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