The NHL All-Star weekend is in the books, and although it’s not always the purest hockey you’ll ever see (there is just something about watching a defenseman hold his stick in one hand, pretending to play defense, that kind of hurts my hockey soul), there were still plenty of fun moments that occurred.
From Kessel being traded for Seguin at the All-Star team draft, to Radim Vrbata being super serious, to Johnny Gaudreau looking like Uncle Jack from Arrested Development, there is a lot to talk about, so let’s get down in the “Best and Worst” of the All-Star weekend.
WORST: SPORTSNET’S ATTEMPTS AT FILLING DEAD AIR
Being a host is a tough gig, and even more so when it’s during a once a year, “nobody really knows what we’re doing here” event like the NHL All-Star draft.
That being said, the Sportsnet hosts of Darren Millard and Kathryn Tappen looked nervous as they took turns trying to talk over each other in an attempt to see who could ask the worst question.
The low point was probably when Kathryn asked Seguin to show off his shoes because they were the same shoes Stamkos was wearing. Seguin, looking like a laid back Wolf of Wall Street, obliged, mostly because his charm game is strong.
Even Stamkos had to lean back to get away from the heat Seguin was bringing.
BEST: RADIM VRBATA ACTUALLY SMILED
Vancouver is used to Radim “Hockey is Serious Business” Vrbata. Exhibit A:
Those eyes are full of hockey murder.
At the All-Star draft,however, we would see his first smile of the season:
This would be the last time he would ever smile.
BEST: OVECHKIN PULLED A STEVE FRANCIS
Ovechkin’s best performance of the weekend was probably during the All-Star draft, when he tried to convince everyone not to draft him so he could win the car for being picked last.
He pleaded with the drafters, he held up signs to the camera, and he even put up with Pierre McGuire’s intense, no sense of personal space interview style in an attempt to win the Honda.
Alas, it was not meant to be, as Ovechkin was eventually picked near the end, but not last. Ovechkin then hammed it up for the cameras (or not, maybe he just really really loves Hondas) as Foligno and crew laughed at his misery.
BEST SIGN OVECHKIN MIGHT JUST REALLY REALLY LOVE HONDAS
GIF: Ovi saying what I believe is some colorful swearing pic.twitter.com/H2mL6Qv5Oc
— steph (@myregularface) January 24, 2015
OK, this just got real.
WORST: TWO CARS WERE GIVEN AWAY TO THE LAST PLAYERS PICKED
For some reason they decided to give away two cars, one to Nugent-Hopkins and one to Filip Forsberg, because god knows being picked last in an All-Star draft is something you rarely recover from without a free car.
BEST OVECHKIN JUST REALLY REALLY LOVES HELPING PEOPLE
Ovie apparently wanted the car so he could donate it to a local charity.
Honda, who apparently were just as confused as to the rest of us as to why Ovechkin really wanted their car, reached out to him and gave him a free car. Ovechkin said he planned on donating it all along which is why he lobbied for it so hard.
I just like the fact that Honda had to have an internal discussion due to Ovechkin wanting a Honda so bad.
“Seriously guys, why does Ovie want our car so much? Something doesn’t add up here, we better talk to him.”
BEST: KEVIN SHATTENKIRK KIND OF LOOKS LIKE ANDY KAUFMAN
WORST: THE JERSEYS LOOKED JUST AS BAD ON ICE AS WE THOUGHT THEY WOULD
Even Tier 8 PICH roller hockey teams would pass on these jerseys, and this is a league in which “The Veiny Shafts” have a jersey that borders on being R rated.
BEST: RADIM VRBATA IS ALL BUSINESS
After realizing he showed human emotion during the draft, Vrbata dialed it back into Terminator mode and kept all emotions at bay the rest of the weekend.
Look at that intro. He skates out quickly, barely acknowledges the crowd, then gets to his spot in line. The man is a goal sniping machine who requires no sleep.
BEST: KESSEL IS A REAL HOCKEY ENIGMA
Usually enigmas in hockey are Russian players who didn’t answer a question to the media’s liking, and are thus labelled as enigmas who possibly ruin the locker room.
The real enigma in hockey is how Phil Kessel can make skating to his spot in line look awkward as hell, yet earlier that weekend, there he was beating Tyler Seguin in a skating contest. This is a man who was used in a test to see what job people thought he had, very few of which said hockey player.
Yet when you watch him play, he has one of the best shots in the league, and can skate really really fast. This is hockey’s greatest puzzle.
WORST: PLAYER INTROS
There is nothing worse than sitting through player introductions. What’s even worse? They did one on Saturday and one on Sunday. That’s two too many. Vrbata can only hold in his inner hockey rage for so long, you can’t expect him to sit still for so long.
WORST: ANTHEMS THAT TAKE TOO LONG
Hey, I’m all for honoring your country, but when a singer starts making the anthem their own personal American Idol audition tape, that’s when it’s time to move things along at a quicker pace.
WORST: ASSISTANT COACH GO PRO CAM
First off, full credit to Sportsnet for trying to be innovative in their use of GoPro cameras. GoPro on the players during the skills contest? Awesome.
A GoPro on the assistant coach, though? There is only so much excitement to be had from watching the back of helmets and looking at clipboards, even if it is in a solid 60 FPS.
BEST: RADIM SCORED A GOAL
He has been sent back in time to save Sarah Connor. And score a few goals.
WORST: GLENN HEALY NOW LOVES STATS
The NHL unveiled some new technology they have in the works, technology that allows people to track in real time a players ice time, the speed of the players, the distance from the player and the puck, things of that nature. It is very innovative technology and it’s neat to see what the NHL might do with it.
Glenn Healy couldn’t stop gushing about it all night long. And again, you can’t fault someone for being excited about it.
What you can fault him for is that Glenn Healy, noted hockey Luddite, was a huge fan of making fun of advanced stats people. He would mock them and insinuate that they were just a bunch of nerds. Yet here he is, super excited to get more stats about hockey, so they could better understand the game. Which is fundamentally what advanced stats people are trying to do.
This is also a man who hated Twitter so much that he started a column entitled “140 Words” as a sort of protest against Twitter. His first sentence of his first column was “Twitter is all about 140 characters. I don’t do Twitter. I will never tweet.” yet there he was on the weekend, talking about Twitter and acting like it was awesome.
My point? Don’t go on TV crapping all over things just because you don’t understand it. Be open minded so you don’t look like an idiot down the road when you change your mind on something.
BEST: LUONGO FLASHING THE LEATHER
LUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU *pauses for tears* UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!
WORST: BENCH CAM
Bench cam? So we can see the spit in HD? Come on guys.
BEST: HOMAGE TO DOM HASEK
Look at Carey Price attempt an around the world save for no reason. Hasek would be proud.
Kudos to Johnny Tavares for that sick move, as well as generally being the best player on the ice all night long. Don’t worry though, Columbus would ignore that fact. (More on that later)
BEST: THANK GOD TAVARES DOESN’T PLAY FOR TORONTO
It wasn’t just the four goals, it was the fact Tavares displayed insane hands all night long during the All-Star Game. He looks like he was given a magical power to play the game of hockey by gods from distant planets.
That being said, it’s really good he doesn’t play for Toronto, because they would never let us hear the end of it. It’s kind of good he’s in a quiet hockey market, because my god, if there was a player you could gush over and be really annoying to other fan bases about, Tavares would be one of them.
BEST: VRBATA CRASHES FALL OUT BOY
WORST: HD IS NO FRIEND TO PEOPLE WHO STRUGGLE TO GROW A BEARD
That is like four weeks of growth for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
BEST: RYAN GETZLAF AND MARK GIORDANO MIC’D UP
Players being mic’d up during the game remains one of my favorite parts of the All-Star experience. From Scott Hartnell telling Phaneuf to “suck it” during the 2012 All-Star game, to Luongo taking a break from talking to make a save, it is awesome to hear the players during the game.
Tonight’s best moment on the mic was Getzlaf and later Giodarno just repeatedly saying “Uh oh” as the puck whizzed around them. Just a long string of “uh oh”‘s, over and over again.
BEST: REF CAM ALMOST TAKES OUT STAMMER
WORST: ALL-STAR MARC-ANDRE FLEURY RESEMBLES PLAYOFF FLEURY
Judging a goalie for his play during an All-Star game is akin to making fun of how a Nascar driver mows his lawn, but MA Fleury certainly had a rough start to the game. How bad was it? It got so bad the crowd began giving him the Bronx cheer for stopping the puck behind the net.
Fleury ended the game with the lowest save percentage of all the goalies with .562%.
WORST: SHEA WEBER HATES ALEX OVECHKIN
Shea Weber was not in the giving mood when it came to Ovechkin. From stealing the hardest shot from Ovi, to shutting down this breakaway, Shea Weber was not on Team Ovi this weekend. It’s safe to assume he masterminded the drafting of Ovechkin that cost him the car, too.
On top of being in Shea Weber’s crosshairs, Ovi got to watch Duncan Keith wave his stick at Johnny Gaudreau in his version of All-Star defense.
That’s the sort of thing that will give you a persecution complex.
“Why you hate the Ovi? Why you no love the Ovi??”
BEST: THE SOUND OF GETZLAF FALLING
BEST: CRAWFORD TROLLING JOHANSEN
Crawford robbed Johansen in the second period on what looked like a sure goal. It would have been Johansen’s hat trick goal, but instead, he got to experience the thrill of Crawford laughing at his puny attempts to score a goal.
BEST: MASCOTS PICKING UP CHICKS
During the game, the Nashville Predators mascot lived up to its team name, as it moved in and put the moves on a lady in the audience during the second period. Tyler Seguin, I assume, taught him some moves.
The Ducks mascot Wild Wing is rumored to be changing its name to Wing Man.
BEST: STAMKOS IS RIDICULOUSLY GOOD AT HOCKEY
I swear, at one point he scored a goal holding off one of the trio of 91s, just to let everyone know the game could be 40-10 if he wanted it to be.
The on air crew then proceeded to talk about how people underrate Stamkos’ speed at which point my brain started to melt because that’s like saying people underrated Pavel Bure’s goal scoring ability.
BEST: SERIOUSLY, WEBER HATES OVI
Being that physical in the All-Star game is on par with stabbing a man in the face for looking at your sandwich funny.
BEST: KANE REFUSING TO PASS
Usually the All-Star game is a contest of who can over pass the most, but Patrick Kane says “eff that”.
Not only does he not pass to Phil Kessel, he even puts the puck on his backhand and scores from Phil Kessel’s side of the ice, as if to mock him.
BEST: BRIAN ELLIOTT BROUGHT HIS A GAME
From flying in from the Caribbean, to becoming the Carrot Top of skills contests, to stealing goals off of the line, Mr. Elliott was one of the top stars of the weekend.
WORST: OVECHKIN NEEDS TO RETIRE FROM THE BREAKAWAY CONTEST
From the man who gave us the famous fisherman hat with Canadian flags, he has now turned into this:
He bobbles the puck a couple of times, then just shoots it in.He then proceeded to swing and miss three times in his attempts to hit the puck out of the air:
Maybe Shea Weber had threatened to violently kill him just before he shot? We might never know.
Still, it’s no shame if he doesn’t do another one. He honestly looked like he just wasn’t that into it.
BEST: VORACEK STEALING JOHANSEN’S MOVES
This move better be in next years NHL game.
Also, Johnny Gaudreau having the wherewithal to use the Bambi legs was brilliant.
WORST: TAVARES FORGETS HOW PASSING WORKS
WORST: FOLIGNO FORGETS HOW SHOOTING WORKS
WORST: NUGENT-HOPKINS ALSO FORGETS HOW PASSING WORKS
BEST: SHOOTOUT RELAY BETTER THAN BREAKAWAY SKILLS CONTEST
I get a kick out of the NHL breakaway skills contest, mostly because they make for great gif and picture opportunities when the players use funny props. The closest you get to real hockey on All-Star weekend, though, is the shootout relay. A one on one battle where both goalie and skater are doing their best to beat the other guy.
On top of that, you also end up with some amazing goals that even Shea Weber would refuse to beat up.
BEST: GREAT USE OF THE GO PRO
Though thank god there wasn’t a GoPro back in 1994. Imagine watching Lafayette hit the post through that view? Gross.
WORST: DUPLICATE JERSEY NUMBERS
Why not just make everyone wear the number 91 so we can complete this horrifying play by play nightmare of a situation.
WORST: FAN VOTING
If “Vote for Rory” taught us anything, it’s that fan voting is awful and must be lit on fire. Either the hometown fans flood the system, or the people in charge fudge the numbers, there is rarely a time you think to yourself “Ah, the fans got this one right” in hockey.
Case in point, Ryan Johansen won the breakaway contest on Saturday (which wasn’t outrageous) and then won the MVP on Sunday (which WAS outrageous).
Did they not see Johnny T dangling all over the ice? Did they not see Tavares’ four goals?
I mean, I know the All-Star MVP isn’t sacred, but come on, get it right. Johansen would have been voted by the fans for “looking the most like John Tavares” over Tavares because that is how awful fan voting is.
Just give the hometown player all the awards next year, don’t even both with the fan voting.