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Random Thoughts: The NHL All-Star Festivities

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Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
baggedmilk
4 months ago
I just got back from Toronto after spending a few days in the 6ix where we participated in the SponsorshipX conference and soaked up the vibe around the All-Star Game festivities. Now that I’m home, I’d like to share some thoughts on the player draft, the skills competition, and the evolution of the All-Star Game.

THE PLAYER DRAFT

I was initially excited when I learned that the NHL was bringing back the player draft for this year’s All-Star Game, but that excitement quickly faded once the event began. I thought the draft lacked player interaction — the camera was always darting around, and it was tough to follow — and it likely would have been 2000% more entertaining if the players were allowed to have some fun, as Michael Bublé allegedly did.
Instead of letting the guys have some fun, the NHL tried to keep everything calm and controlled, resulting in a boring event that had the potential to be much more. Even the fun of having a last pick was taken from us with the “last four players are chosen via card” idea, rather than letting us see who would be the final selection. Remember how much fun it was to watch Phil Kessel sit there until the end? Remember Ovi lobbying for the car? We didn’t get any of that.
Not only did we miss the fun and shenanigans of players jockeying for positions, but everyone just ended up taking their teammates, which contributed to my general boredom. If the NHL attempts this again in three years when the next All-Star Game happens, they need to establish rules that prevent picking teammates unless there is literally no one else available. Either that or scrap the draft again because whatever this year’s version was ended up way more boring than it could have been. Thank Gord for Michael Bublé, you know?

THE SKILLS COMPETITION

Despite my disappointment with Thursday night’s player draft, I found the skills competition to be very entertaining overall. I thought the event selection was solid overall — outside of the classics — my favourite new event was the one-timer comp. It also looked like the players (Kucherov aside) were putting a little more effort into it to try and win the $1 million prize. Honestly, I had a really good time watching it.
Even though I didn’t expect anyone to give an all-out performance, I legitimately think there was a little extra jump in their step to try and win that cash. I also liked the idea that players were eliminated after every round, adding to the intrigue. Even though it wasn’t a perfect event, I absolutely believe that this was the best skills competition the league has had in years. Of course, it certainly helped that Connor McDavid ended up winning the whole thing after he helped put it all together, but that’s beside the point.

THE ALL-STAR GAME

I know that weekends like this one are meant for kids and not 38-year-old bloggers, but I was genuinely happy to see that the games had a little more pace and hustle than we’ve seen in recent years. There was plenty of talk leading up to the event about making the ASG more exciting, but the reality is that it’s never going to be anything more than a little twirl for the boys. To see them cruising around beyond a 25% effort was quite refreshing.
Frankly, I’d guess that a bunch of the boys probably got after it last night because there were a lot of missed passes and stumbling starts throughout the afternoon, but that didn’t stop them from putting more work in than we’ve seen on one of these weekends in forever. That’s not to say that they were going all-out — nowhere close — but I think we can all agree that there were more moments worth watching than what’s been the norm for a long time. What I certainly didn’t expect, however, was that the goalies would all be standing on their heads and keep the scores way lower than you’d expect from an All-Star 3-on-3 tourney.
On days like this, the winner of the day doesn’t really matter in the end, but for the fans watching at Scotiabank Place and at home, having the players actually give a care made a whole world of difference. There were nice plays, beautiful goals, better stops, and everything you’d want with that much skill on the ice, and I think the league and players deserve plenty of credit for giving us something worth watching. Honestly, I don’t remember the last time we could say that.

THE VIBE AROUND TORONTO

Even though I was only in Toronto for a few days as part of our media offering at SponsorshipX, I did get a chance to cruise around and check out what was happening for the all-star festivities. As expected, there was a lot going on. All around Scotiabank Place were activations of all kinds, events, and restaurants that were packed to the rafters. There was a buzz in downtown Toronto and you could see the excitement on people’s faces for what was to come.
As I mentioned earlier, I know the All-Star Game is an event geared toward kids, and you could really tell how excited they all were to watch their heroes do their thing. There were jerseys everywhere, people dressed up in all kinds of outfits, and the vibes were immaculate no matter where we went. For my first experience at All-Star weekend, I was thoroughly impressed with the show that the league put on in Toronto. It’s almost too bad that there won’t be another one for three years because I had way more fun than I originally expected.

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