Wrapping Up NHL All-Star Weekend
Photo credit:Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
9 months ago
Well, that’s a wrap on NHL All-Star weekend from the beautiful state of Florida. The weekend was certainly… something.
The days leading up to the event were honestly really cool. The league had set up a big festival right on the beach in Fort Lauderdale with more than 25 different booths set up with giveaways from sponsors, players signing autographs, and food/drink stands. It was a really cool vibe and it felt like there was a really good buzz for the weekend.
The buzz kind of died at the skills competition though. An event that should be a quick 90-minute, action-packed showcase of the elite skills that these players possess was instead a dragged one, three-hour snoozefest. It could have been executed much better.
The All-Star game on Saturday was slightly more exciting, especially the game that featured the hometown players in Matt Tkachuk and Aleksander Barkov. The crowd was really into that one and it seemed to give the players a bit more juice.
I loved seeing Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin teaming up on a few goals and they seemed to be having a great time. Ovechkin was skating just as hard as anyone else and gave the crowd a good laugh when he launched his stick through the neutral zone to try and throw off a David Pastrnak breakaway attempt.
There was more juice in the actual game than in the skills competition.
Feb 4, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Central Division goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) of the Winnipeg Jets defends against Pacific Division forward Connor McDavid (97) of the Edmonton Oilers during the first period of a semifinal game during the 2023 NHL All-Star Game at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
The big highlight from an Oilers perspective was Stuart Skinner getting a chance to attend his first NHL All-Star game. Skinner talked to me after the game about this experience being a motivating factor for him going forward.
“100 percent. Being able to talk to them (other elite goalies) and see what they do in the offseason, how they train, and just how they are as people is definitely the coolest part about it” said Skinner, “It’s the elite of the elite and I would like to get their one day”.
Even McDavid and Draisaitl had big smiles on whenever they were asked about their rookie teammate’s appearance in Florida. There was some genuine joy in their voices when they talked about Skinner being down there with them.
As far as the game goes, the Pacific Division didn’t find a lot of success on the ice. McDavid and Draisaitl had some wow moments on the ice and I really enjoyed seeing how well they clicked with San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson. There was some legit chemistry there.
Dare to dream Oilers fans.
I also did some hard-core investigative journalism and asked Connor McDavid if he’s given any thought to how long he could potentially keep his mullet going.
“No, I haven’t at all. I’ve gotten some mixed reviews so as long as it’s going well at home, that’s all that matters” said the Oilers Captain.
Jun 21, 2019; Vancouver, BC, Canada; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks before the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, along with Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, took to the podium ahead of the beginning of the All-Star tournament. Bettman started things off by talking about the economic impact of having the tournament in Florida and how many fans travelled down to watch the event.
He then announced that Toronto will be getting the 2024 event.
I know some of you are disappointed that Edmonton was once again held out of getting a chance to host an All-Star Game and I can understand that. The Oilers have one of the newest arenas in the league, it’s a hockey-mad market, and Ice District is pretty much complete (I believe the team was waiting for that before they pushed for an event).
I don’t know what the league has in store for the next few years, but I would guess that it’s more likely that Edmonton gets a draft before it gets an All-Star game.
In other news, I was hopeful that we’d get a bit of an update on the potential of the salary cap going up this summer but Daly said that there is no update on that.
They also gave updates on a few other things and answered a lot of questions. If you want to read more on that, you can check out the handful of articles we have over at Daily Faceoff which outlines Bettman’s comments on TV numbers, the sale of the Ottawa Senators and more.
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