We’re two weeks away from the NHL All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, and apparently the League felt the only way to match the solemn self-importance of its 100 Greatest Players Of All-Time Presented By Molson Canadian is to smother the most entertaining portion of the Skills Competition with a pillow.
The Breakaway Challenge is apparently dead.
Long live the Breakaway Challenge.
Nick Kypreos reported on Hockey Night In Canada that the prop comedy competition, which last season gave us the most memorable All-Star moment not named John Scott, is done.
“They’re getting rid of it in the skills competition. No sunglasses. No hats for Ovie. No Superman cape for Kane. No mini-sticks for Corey Perry,” he said.
The Breakaway Challenge was reintroduced in the 2008 All-Star Game as a “slam-dunk competition” for the NHL, with trick shots and wacky props and players helping each other do wacky things.
At its worst, it was a uncomfortable string of “good job, good efforts” as players showed the hitting a puck out of the air with your stick after two 360-spins is slightly harder than, like, dunking a dumb basketball.
At its best, it was … basically the best thing of All-Star Weekend, pre-3-on-3 tournament format.
Alex Ovechkin with the hat and the sunglasses and his former frenemy Evgeni Malkin assisting him. Patrick Kane with the Superman. James Neal with Dierks Bentley. Chewbacca Brent Burns. P.K. Subban with the Jagr wig. Jakub Voracek using Johnny Gaudreau like a mite. Brian Elliott with the selfie. All of it.
Now, before the NHL gets killed for this, it’s probable that the NHLPA pushed the idea to kill it, because the only thing NHL players hate more than escrow is embarrassing themselves during good-natured fun.
Remember what Mathieu Schneider said about the end of the All-Star fantasy draft?
“I think the concept was neat. In the beginning,” said Schneider. “But it was a couple things: Players generally feel uncomfortable. They felt like they had to entertain. It’s not really what they do, and they felt uncomfortable out there.”
In any event, it’s a bummer. Because at least when you’re watching a professional hockey player struggle to send a puck into a mini-net 15 feet away from him, or an underwhelming performance in the hardest shot competition, at least we had the prop comedy.
But not everyone will lament the loss.
“I think the only ones disappointed that this stuff is gone are children under nine and Elliotte Friedman,” said Kypreos.
Yeah, [expletive] nine year olds. No reason the NHL should want to entertain them. No reason for the NHL to offer them an entry point to appreciate its star players, right? PROLLY NEVER EVEN PLAYED THE GAME, EH?!
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