Sunday, January 27, 2008

Skills Competition: Hit or Miss?

I will be the first to admit it that I had high expectations and elevated hopes for the hype surrounding this year's version of the Skills Competition, and I'll also be the first to admit that I was once again disappointed with the outcome.

I must admit though, the most pleasant surprise came from the YoungStars game. That game was fast paced, 3-on-3, and loaded with action from players who actually cared as opposed to last year's brutal waste of time.

That about does it though for what impressed me.

The new "Obstacle Course" that kicked things off sucked, and I couldn't wait for it to end. It seemed as though the cameramen had no previous indication of what was going to happen in that event, and it made it hard enough to follow. At least Markov did well in his portion of that challenge...

The fastest skater was loaded with technical problems that saw the slowest skater of the East (Brian Campbell) qualify with the fastest time because it was the only REGISTERED time, so that kind of ruined it.

The "Elimination Round" was fun for one reason: Dion Phaneuf. He was the ONLY scorer for the West, and had to face 3 qualifiers from the East in the elimination round... and he wound up being the only scorer of that, too, to win the event.

The YoungStars game was excellent in my opinion, but I am still disappointed at the fact that David Clarkson was chosen to be there instead of Andrei Kostitsyn. I know that sounds biased, but who is David Clarkson anyways? He sure did shut me up though with a goal on the first shot for the Eastern YoungStars....but still, I'd rather have seen A.K. 46.

The Shooting Accuracy challenge was alright. Tomas Kaberle went 4-for-4 in round 1 and 8-for-9 overall, as he defeated Jason Arnott in a 1-on-1 showdown. I guess this will get Leaf Nation upset, as Kaberle proved he can shoot like the best of them, but refuses to when it comes to an actual Leafs game.

The Hardest Shot competition offered a pleasant surprise as Vinny Lecavalier registered 101.9 m/ph, but was not able to hold off big Zdeno Chara and his 103.1 m/ph shot. I had chosen Lacavalier to pull the upset even before the competition started, and it literally came down to the last shooter and the last shot to screw me over.

And then there was 1... the over-hyped, massive FLOP of a "Breakaway Challenge".

Not only were most of the shooters VERY DISAPPOINTING in their choice of trick-shots, but a certain goalie that I'm embarassed to call out decided to ruin things further by challenging a certain player nearly halfway to the blueline, and pokechecking him on both occasions. WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT, EVGENI?!?!? Oops, I let the cat out of the bag... Seriously, Nabby...I always speak so highly of you, why did you go and take the BREAKAWAY CHALLENGE so seriously?

All jokes aside though, Nabby's gaffe wasn't what ruined the event; the shooters ruined the event.

They seemed to not care about dazzling the crowd with ridiculous out-of-the-box type moves, as we all expected to see. For what reason I'll never know, but apparently Gary Bettman was quoted as saying "They (the shooters) weren't adequately prepared, they'll be better next year."

They better be, because the Montreal crowd is going to boo them out of the country if not.

A good way to start would be to look back at Ovechkin and Gaborik's attempts. Ovechkin tried dazzling the crowd with some high-level-of-difficulty tricks, which wound up winning him the event, while Gaborik was the only shooter who made use of the area behind the net (legal for this event). The shots on the 2k previews were all individually better than what we saw from our stars, which is a disappointment in itself. And was it just me, or do the 2k games look absolutely AWFUL compared to the EA Sports hockey games? I wouldn't even take 2k's game as a gift.

All in all, what it comes down to is basically the same old story: All-Star weekend is a disappointment, year after year after year. It has its moments, but not enough moments to make the event memorable. To me, this year's memorable moments for the skills competition are: Iginla missing the net on a slapshot, Nabby pokechecking St. Louis, who for sure is furious, and Chris Pronger falling down while tyring to ruin Corey Perry's interview, and laughing so hard that he couldn't even get back up.

Are any of those memories even skills?


And that's why the Skills Competiton was a miss.

Let me know what you thought about it!


Ant said...

Well I didn't get a chance to see the Skills Competition, although I did catch the breakaway challenge on youtube today. I thought it was ridiculous, all the hype but no action, maybe all we needed was Sid the Kid to lighten things up. However every year the All Star Game does disappoint alot of people, i suggest the should do this event as an outside game, screw the Winter Classic and make it the Winter All Star Classic.

sasabainga said...


Yeah, I'm sure Sid would have done something worthwhile, and it's a real shame that he isn't participating this year. But still, Sid or no Sid, there were some uber-talented guys out there, the likes of Kovalchuk and Gaborik, and they are able of doing something much more spectacular than what they did, with or without practicing the move before hand.

Making it outdoors would be nice, but it's not what's needed to save this event. What's needed is ACTION! There is no intensity in this competition, apart from the YoungStars game and the Fastest Skater, where players are really trying. They should re-vamp the event entirely, and have FANS send in suggestions to for new events.

If I had a suggestion, it would be for the Breakaway Challenge: Since the NHL and YouTube are partnering up, why not get people from around the world to send in videos of themselves doing the sickest moves possible to YouTube, have them voted on by the public, and choose the 5 best people to be invited to the Skills Competition as Guests, going up against 5 NHL'ers, and have it judged the same way?

I bet you each amateur player would put up a hell of a fight and it would get the NHL'ers on their heels in fear of being embarassed...I would DEFINITELY tune in for that!

kev said...

A little disappointed too but I was kind of expecting it do be that way. I agree with you Sal that the obstacle course was horrible. The other usual events (fastest skater, hardest shot, accuracy)were basically the same as always, and I didn't mind the simple straight line race. For the breakaway challenge, obviously there could have been more creativity but I would like to see (maybe next year) the players use different non-hockey objects or maybe the help of another player to do something really illegal in a normal shootout.
Agreed that fans sending in ideas to make it better would really help.
PS. I know Kovalev isn't tops in points this year but he would've helped the event, especially the shootout (probably wouldn't do too bad in the accuracy shooting either).

jerrytuts said...

Every year i fall into the hype of this all star game and every year i find myself bored watching it. the marketing for it is great but the actual show doesnt hold much water.
i vote MISS.

Pat said...

Atalnta fans are horrible. They booed everyone from the Eastern division except for their two stars Hossa and Kovalchuk. Talk about having no class. And I've never seen so many fans chewing their gum like they were cows out to pasture. Geez Atlanta, what's wrong with you guys !! At least your announcer has some flare. Not like our sleeper in Montreal. anyways, other than that, it was ok... and did you guys see Markov's one timers... dead center. And to say his shot is 96 mph... who knew?

sasabainga said...

To all above...

Kovalev should have been there...and you're right, he really would have come up with something special, as opposed to just skating in on goal and doing a little innie-outtie move. Kovy got shunned out, and who knows if he'll ever have a season like this again...I doubt it.

Atlanta fans were definitely dull and disrespectful. The booing was completely unnecessary; the game was a time to relax, not carry over emotion from the Thrashers games. At least next year the players will be treated right. And as for Markov, that really impressed me too. I figured though that he could crank it around 95 m/ph.