City: Montreal, Quebec
Arena: Bell Centre
NHL All-Star SuperSkills Competition 7 P.M.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
This is a great article, I wish I had written this........
Submitted for your approval, here are the Top Five Reasons to Watch the National Hockey League's All-Star Weekend:
1. The Skills Competition — I realize it's got some crazy, elongated, sponsor-laden official title now, but no matter what you call it, it's always exhilarating to watch the world's best hockey players putting specific crowd-friendly skills to the test.
If it's the NHL's fastest men attempting to skate a breathtaking lap around the rink in record time or elite snipers taking aim at those foam bull's-eyes placed in the four corners of the net or even a handful of superstars testing their imaginations in the breakaway challenge, I'm always interested to see which man is the current master of a particular hockey skill.
The skills competition in hockey is boiled down to its basic offensive elements — and a reminder that this sport or any sport, is built on a foundation of fundamentals.
Seeing the best of the best employing these building blocks makes the NHL instantly more accessible.
2. Players Without Helmets — While we're on the subject of accessibility, my one impossible dream for the NHL is a return to the days in which the fans could actually see what the players looked like.
The speed and power of today's game prohibits such cranial nudity, but we can get a much-appreciated injection of individuality during the skills competition.
Also, included in my unrequited fantasy is the triumphant return of "hockey hair." In case you haven't noticed, there are way too many short-haired skaters in the modern era. Grow it out and show some personality!
3. Pickup Game Nostalgia — Everyone who's played hockey at some point in their lives has partaken in at least a few pickup games during which defense was a rumor and goaltenders were left for dead.
The All-Star Game allows all of us to witness the world's premier players mimic that all-offense mindset and discard any modicum of back checking conscience.
Think about it: despite the prevalence of defensive systems and the stifling of creativity fostered by over coaching, the most fun you can have playing hockey is when your first thought is the opponent's goal.
That's why we play, isn't it?
4. Fantasy Lines — Apologies to the rotisserie junkies out there, but the real fantasy sports take place during All-Star showcases.
Where else can Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Zdeno Chara, Jarome Iginla, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf, Joe Thornton, Evgeni Nabokov, and Tim Thomas be on the same ice sheet?
Throw in the injured likes of Sidney Crosby, Pavel Datsyuk, and Nicklas Lidstrom and you have enough star power to blind a continent.
5. For Spite — Just like Jerry Seinfeld returning a coat to the store just to throw it in the face of the salesman, good-spirited hockey fans can take in and enjoy the midwinter get-together to prove to the jaded writers and fans that prattle on about how much the All-Star Game stinks that we can think for ourselves.
Standing up for something you're passionate about?
Hockey supporters are experts at that.