Hockey From The Blind Side, The All Star Skills Competition, What Entertainment!
By John Panarese
I will readily confess that I am not a big fan of the “fantasy draft” approach to the All Star game. I’m not “against” it, but even as someone who plays fantasy hockey, it has only a little interest for me.
However, I am a Big Fan of the All Star game and the concept itself. I think showcasing the talent of the NHL and rewarding the guys who are having great seasons benefits both the league and the fan base. It is an entertaining event, and the skills competition has been a great addition to the weekend.
Not that my opinion means anything, but I preferred the “conference” format where east met west. I think this method could be utilized in a similar way as to how Major League Baseball deals with their All Star game. Have the game mean something in that, for example, the winning conference gets home ice advantage in the Stanley Cup finals. If the players have something to play for, it will be a bit more exciting to watch.
Nevertheless, the fantasy draft turned out to be quite interesting in how Daniel Alfredsson and Zdeno Chara chose their teams. Alfie ended up with his fellow teammates and countrymen and Chara pretty much did as well. Of course, from an Islander fan perspective, John Tavares was drafted by Alfredsson by way of a recommendation from Zenon Konopka.
There is an expression I am fond of using with family and friends on specific occasions in regard to my physical disability. That is, “sometimes, it sucks to be blind”. To me, the All Star Skills competition was one of those occasions I haven’t been able to catch the whole competition over the last few years, but I was fortunate enough to be able to catch it from start to end this year. I am, without a doubt, happy that I was able to do so.
As I have been doing with the Islander games throughout this season, I am going to list my “blind observations” from the skills competition. They are in no particular order, and are probably random as well;
• It was great to see John Tavares reach the third round of the Elimination Shootout competition. He ended up competing against Steven Stamkos and Jason Pomingville, with Stamkos winning it in the end.
• The breakaway competition was a blast. To me, that was the highlight of the night. It showed the character and personality of so many of the guys, and was plainly an entertaining event.
• Patrick Kane’s “Super Man” outfit and manner of scoring and his exploding puck on Brian Elliot was only match by Cory Perry’s antics using the mini stick in his last turn.
• JT served himself well in his last couple of turns. After flubbing his first try, he impressed and dazzled with his lacrosse skills and magic hands during his last two runs.
• OK, the team relay is definitely entertaining, but I still have not warmed up to it. Tavares’s group had the best time, 2:08, and it was a pretty impressive series of events.
• A 108.8 miles per hour slap shot is just sick. The duel between Shea Weber and Zdeno Chara for the hardest shot was classic. Weber posted a 106 MPH shot at one point, but Chara won it all again. I am glad that I am NOT a goaltender in the NHL ….
• The NBC All Sports Network (formally, Verses), did a great job covering the competition. I enjoyed having the interviews with the players and two guys being miked throughout the event. JR rocks!
I think the game is going to be quite enjoyable and entertaining. I am looking forward to Gary’s report. I will be putting the game on from start to finish this afternoon.
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