This weekend, another NHL All-Star Weekend came and went in St.Louis. As usual, the skills competition kicked the weekend off on Friday night, and we saw some old favourites as well as some new additions to the competition. Canucks’ rookie Quinn Hughes competed in the fastest skater competition, while Elias Pettersson was the only forward in the hardest shot contest. The third Canuck all-star, goaltender Jacob Markstrom, represented the Pacific division in the shootout. In the new passing competition, players were placed above ice level in the stands and had to shoot down into nets worth different amount of points on the ice. Not surprisingly, Chicago superstar Patrick Kane won the event, much to the dismay of the Blues fans in the audience. Although it was a cool idea, the scoring was kind of confusing and rules had some grey areas, leading to a less than ideal product for those watching at home.
However, the biggest new addition to the skills competition was the Elite Women’s 3 on 3 game, featuring 10 Canadian and 10 American athletes. The Canadian team won 2-1, supported by a fantastic performance from Ann-Renee Desbiens in net. The game was a great display of the talent in the women’s game, and will hopefully lead to more funding and interest into sustaining a professional women’s hockey league.
In the actual All-Star games, the Pacific and Atlantic divisions faced off in the finals with one million dollars on the line. These games are always kind of a tough watch because players are certainly not taking it very seriously, but you can’t really blame them for not wanting to risk injury on a celebratory weekend where not much is at stake. At the end of the game, it was the Pacific division celebrating a 5-4 win, and three Canucks coming home with a bonus hundred thousand dollars. Although that kind of money isn’t a ton for everyone out there, for Quinn Hughes, it’s around 10 percent of his rookie contract salary.
Like usual, the All-Star game faced some issues with star players choosing to not participate because of injuries or disinterest, but the league still managed to put together a memorable night. For the players, it may not be their favourite thing to participate in, but for the fans, All-Star weekend is much more than a few games. It’s the opportunity to see the best players in the world interact with each other and just have fun, showing a side of themselves that is not always visible from a fan’s perspective. For that reason, the All-Star game is still an important event in the year, even if the on-ice product sometimes can be disappointing.