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  • What Can the NHL Do To Spice Up the Skills Competitions?

    Kayla Hynnek

    Kirill Kaprizov has been in seven straight All-Star Games, including the Kontinental Hockey League. However, he declined to participate in any skills competitions this time and did not log any points in either game the Central Division played in the tournament. Kaprizov was scheduled to participate in the fastest skater competition but decided he did not want to participate at the last minute. Kaprizov can do what he wants, but these All-Star weekend festivities need to be spiced up so the players can actually look forward to them.


    This year’s All-Star celebrations were pretty underwhelming. Kaprizov wasn’t the only one who appeared to be less than thrilled to be there. Connor McDavid also declined to take part in the fastest skater competition. You often see players not trying very hard at anything. It seems the players are afraid to get injured, which is valid.


    Cale Makar blew a tire and wiped out as he did his fast lap around the ice. They had foam pads around the boards to prevent injury, but the guys were still wiping out. A better alternative so guys aren’t so worried about losing their edges? Have all the players line up at one goal line and make it an actual race to the other goal line. No one will have to worry about getting their edges perfect, and it would be more fun to watch.



    Further adding to the confusion, the second event started even though the fastest skater competition had not concluded, leaving viewers confused. Why would they want to have to redress the ice for every event twice instead of just finishing it all in one go like they normally do?


    Tendy tandem was the second event, and it had players just as confused as the viewers. This is the only event Kaprizov decided to take part in, as there wasn’t much for him to do. Each division had both goalies team up. One goalie would receive a pass from a skater, and attempt to shoot it in the net at the other end of the ice. Depending on where it landed, the other goalie would face either one, two, or three skaters and attempt to save their shots.


    Unfortunately, the event was extremely underwhelming. Some players didn’t even take shots at the goalies, and it looked like they weren’t even trying. The best attempts came from the players from the Women’s American and Canadian teams.


    The next event was one of two prerecorded games. It was at a beach, and players had to knock down surfboards by shooting them with pucks. They then had to hit an NHL logo target that would send an opponent into a tank of water. This one was not very entertaining as well. Players couldn’t hit the targets, and they all seemed bored.


    Breakaway challenges were sprinkled throughout the broadcast, a tradition that has become extremely boring. The NHL chose to bring in celebrity judges who determined the winner. Matthew Tkachuk had the most creative setup. But instead of having the hometown player win, the judges gave it to Alex Ovechkin’s kid. This event would be much better if they did it all at once. It gives the players and viewers more time to get into it, rather than watching one player, then waiting half an hour for the next one.


    Kaprizov participated in this event last year, doing his best Alex Ovechkin impersonation.


    It’s pretty well known that hockey players aren’t the most personable of guys, with many having the same personality as a cardboard box. The NHL decided to add one of the most sleepy sports to the competition, the game of golf, with an event called “pitch and puck.” What a way to pump up the crowd! While it is pretty cool to combine hockey and golf, this event was indeed a snoozefest, and it did not seem like anyone actually enjoyed it.



    Finally, they had the hardest shot and accuracy shooting contest. Those two events were mostly unchanged, probably because it showed off some of the effortless skills NHL players have. Because most viewers are average people, it’s awesome to see how fast pro hockey players slap shots really are. It’s also impressive to see how easy it is for them to hit targets at all corners of a net 25 feet away.


    Ultimately, this year’s skills competition was boring and confusing. The NHL should’ve just stuck to the basics and emphasized hockey skills. There was no stick-handling relay or passing games. Even watching the goaltenders face shot after shot would’ve been much better than “tendy tandem.”


    They need to bring back the theatrics. Go back to picking team captains and alternate captains, then have them draft their teams. They can make trades as well. That would allow guys like Kaprizov to play with Eastern Conference players like Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. It’s been the same players for each team since the three-on-three format began.


    They could even do an international tournament format and have an American team, a Canadian team, Europeans, and Russians. It might be fun for the players to be on a team with their countrymen and give the whole thing a more competitive edge.


    The skills competition needs to be more of a competition instead of just games worth nothing. When Nick Suzuki won the golf game, he won free Chipotle for a year. But Montreal does not have any Chipotles in the city, so no one really won there.


    Each event can compromise of players from each team, and whoever wins will win points for their team. The team with the most points in the end wins. It’s not that hard to make skills competitions fun and entertaining, but the NHL really missed the mark this season.


    Next year’s All-Star weekend will be in Toronto, and there’s no doubt the fans there will be more into it. But the whole event still needs to be spiced up. Make it look like the players actually want to be there. New team formats, new skills challenges. The whole thing could use an overhaul.

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