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Coming to you live from the NHL Skills Competition

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Tyler Yaremchuk
1 year ago
Well, that was a bit of dud.
I grew up loving the skills competition. It was appointment viewing for me as a kid. I remember the Ovechkin breakaway attempt with the hat back in Montreal and some of those epic hardest-shot competitions with Weber and Chara. The event has actually produced some cool moments in the past.
I’m always excited to get to cover this event because it’s a little bit of nostalgia for me. Some of my earliest NHL memories are about this so it’s cool from a personal perspective.
Last year I got to watch the event in Vegas and it lived up to the hype. The Golden Knights organization really knew how to put on a show and the building was really full with fans from a bunch of different teams. I guess that’s expected when you put the event in Vegas. 
This year wasn’t quite done as well. The crowd wasn’t as into it and there was a lot of just awkward pauses in the arena. The NHL also tried their hand at a few unique events with a beach themed, like they did last year with the Las Vegas Strip. The ones this year weren’t quite as cool but I still applaud the NHL for trying new stuff at least. It’s better than just rolling out the same old product year after year.
They still had the classic events though, like the fastest skater event which this year did not feature Connor McDavid.
Earlier today on Oilersnation Everyday, I talked about how I was a little bit disappointed that Connor McDavid decided to skip out on the event. It’s kind of his marquee event and it’s something that would draw a lot of eyeballs to the skills competition as a whole.
Then I saw Cale Makar take a tumble during his hot lap and thought “yeah, maybe it’s okay that #97 doesn’t want to do this”.
Makar went down relatively hard and could you imagine if he had buckled his knee trying to get up or crashed into the boards? Devastating. 
The fastest skater event is the only one that requires players to go truly 100% in terms of effort and it’s really the only event that carries any sort of injury risk. Maybe it’s time to retire it as a part of the night?
It was neat seeing Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner out with all the league’s superstars and it looked like he was having a good time. I will say though, the event he was a part of, Tendy Tandem, was wildly confusing. I read the rules beforehand and still didn’t really know what was happening. 
Having a goalie face a 3-0 plus All the subtraction and addition on top of that made it just hard to follow. The event also really dragged on. Again, I like when they get creative with these but there just wasn’t a lot of buzz.
Skinner’s two teammates, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, both took part in the Accuracy Shooting competition. The “Mullett Bro’s” had wildly different results in their attempts at this.
Draisaitl struggled and honestly, I kind of felt for him. That 30 seconds probably felt like an hour and I would imagine having everyone watching you and having that much time messes with your mind a bit.
McDavid was absolutely nails in the opening round though. He pulled off the perfect four-for-four and crushed everyone else by a couple of seconds. As if you couldn’t tell from his league-leading 41 goals, McDavid can absolutely rip the puck.
That got a good cheer from the crowd but honestly, it was one of the few moments that did.
The players also clearly weren’t that interested in things either. Not that I expect max effort by any means, but this thing had major ‘mail it in’ vibes. Maybe the league should throw $25k as a prize for each event to get some juice behind it. 
Here’s what Trevor Zegras had to say about the way things went down tonight:
A pretty damning comment from one of the NHL’s most exciting and marketable young stars.
Everything just took so long. This event would be way better if the events all happened right after one another instead of having a bunch of awkward pauses in the arena and constant commercial breaks on TV. Make it 90 minutes of non-stop action instead of the two to three-hour slog-fest that it was tonight.
I was excited for the ‘Pitch ‘n Puck’ event but they made that about three times as long as they needed to. It was pre-taped! You could have edited it right down but no, they needed it to last 20 minutes and have a commercial break in it.
There were some fun moments but all-in-all this event was nowhere near as good as it could have been. Here’s to hoping the 3v3 tournament tomorrow at least has a bit of a pulse to it.

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