I apologize for the headline, I need to work on that.
So, the 2012 All-Star Fantasy Draft was completed yesterday and was packed with surprises! Well, not really. It was pretty lame, which doesn’t qualify as a surprise, unfortunately. I guess it was decent, but that music they played after every damn player was selected was annoying as s**t. I did enjoy watching Carey Price (who is a really goofy bastard, apparently) “miss” captain Zdeno Chara’s handshake and have Chara sort of chase him into the seats and stare him down…and also Marian Gaborik walk over to Henrik Lundqvist’s side of the room before turning around to go to the correct team. Alright, fine, NHL, I guess it wasn’t that bad, it was somewhat entertaining, but it did get old after the first few picks and after they stopped talking to players. But anyway, it at least set us up for this weekend’s exciting events. And by exciting events, I mean, of course, the skills competition. Can’t really understand why they still have the actual All-Star game. What kind of ratings does that thing get? If I want to watch a hockey game, I’ll watch an actual hockey game when the points count. The skills competition is at least unique, exciting, and most importantly, is a competition.
Seriously, I’d rather watch Ovechkin make a clown out of himself for three hours than watch 35 super-skilled skaters and Dan Girardi (sorry, bud) lollygag around the ice and half-ass an offensive effort, while the goalies just hang back in their nets trying not to pull a Rick DiPiet– I mean hamstring. It’s just not entertaining.
The skills competition is great. It’s hockey-related, and it’s much more interesting than an effort-less hockey “game”. You get to see the players showcase their skills and have something to brag about to everyone else; they can tell their teammates and the other players, “hey, you see that? I’m the fastest skater in the league, fools!” or “hey, did you see how nifty and clever my moves are?” or, in Chara’s case, “hey, you see that? No, it was probably too fast for your puny human, non-giant eyes to comprehend; don’t try blocking that shot in a game or you might break an ankle and miss the playoffs. Seriously, Mr. Ryan Callahan” (seriously, Callahan).
And the fans love it! It almost feels like a refreshing break from an adrenaline-filled season. It’s different, and that’s what makes it great! There aren’t any faceoffs, offsides, 1-3-1 traps, officiating, heart-wrenching saves and posts, or Daniel Carcillo (WARNING: don’t have anything in your mouth when you click the link). Now that’s not to say that all those things are indefinitely bad (except for the last one, maybe), but they can become a bit monotonous over an 82-game season. The skills competition is to the regular season sort of like what a losing season must be like to a Detroit Red Wings fan: sure, it’s nice to win, but it’s probably annoying to win ALL the time. Right? (Tough to enjoy winning if you don’t know what losing is like? Uh, no good without evil? Er, no? Well screw you, Detroit fans.)
Not to mention that we get to see the more human side of players. Instead of crowding on the bench or drifting around the ice looking like they’re hating life, players are hanging out, palling around, and chatting it up while they aren’t performing in one of the events, and actually seem to be enjoying themselves; usually they’ll mic up a few players, and sometimes they’re actually funny. And who doesn’t love the shootout tournament? When do you ever get to see something like that in the regular season? ..OK, we get the shootouts in the regular season, but they really shouldn’t be there (that’s a story for another time). Still, one on one with the goalies until only one shooter remains is a pretty exciting deal (much better than 6+ shooters deciding a point in the standings), and the players have to love it..well, everyone except for Girardi, who will probably try to dive in front of the shots directed at Lundqvist (is there a shot blocking contest this year?).
Unfortunately, the league didn’t force the captains to split up the Sedin twins (don’t they get tired of each other anyway?), which would have been neat. Especially if they were in a matched against each in a competition like, oh let’s say the accuracy contest…people would be adjusting their TV screens like crazy (“Honey, it’s doing it again! We’re only getting half the picture, and it’s mirroring itself! I told you we should have bought the Japanese one!”). And who would they award the point/win to when they inevitably tie in every single event they compete in?
The point is, the skills competition is fun for everyone involved: the fans, the players, the media, the Zamboni driver, the hot dog guy, Mike Myers…basically everyone except for ESPN. Screw those guys. The players don’t have to try that hard and it’s still exciting. We get to see how talented these guys really are, and they show us in a way much different from the standard stuff. I love watching players try to best each other in one-on-one situations. I love watching players, which includes the goalies, make asses out of themselves in the “creative shootout” competition (by the way, more of that, NHL); you just don’t get to see that kind of clownery on a regular basis unless you’re a fan of the New York Islanders or Columbus Blue Jackets.
There are many question to be answered: Will Chara break his own record for deadliest, er, fastest, shot? Will Gaborik score on arch-enemy Henrik Lundqvist in the elimination shootout? Will Pavel Datsyuk embarrass every single person in the arena whenever he touches the puck (spoiler: yes)? Will anyone actually care about the game? One thing is for sure, though: I’m going to be muting my TV when Lupul, Kessel, or Phanuef are participating in an event, or generally anywhere on the ice at all, because those Sens fans hate the Leafs, apparently. I hope Phil Kessel wins the MVP of the game and is awarded another car in front of those obnoxious, booing fans. And then he takes it for a victory lap around the ice…all while having a glove malfunction, of course.