Photo: Ottawa Citizen
So first let me apologize for the day delay of the Other 29 but I felt it was important to wait until after the All Star festivities had concluded.
Highlight of the Week
By far the most entertaining portion of the weekend was the fantasy draft that took place on Thursday evening. Moving the players into the back to allow fans to sit up close and personal created a unique experience for fans and players alike. It seemed more like watching the Price is Right then an NHL event with fans screaming at the captains who they felt their next pick should be.
While Daniel Alfredsson was the most popular player on the night, Zdeno Chara’s assistant captain Jofrey Lupel was the villain and he played his role well. One of his more notable quotes of the night, “I don’t want to get cheered in Ottawa anyways.” The draft went as some figured with Alfredsson loading up on his Senators players and fellow countrymen while Chara stayed away from the Canucks, took his Bruins and the Leafs players. What I found interesting was that someone actually had predicted every single pick of the draft correctly. That’s either blind luck or amazing forecasting either way good on you!
The highlight of the night for me was the Breakaway Challenge, not for some of the creative dekes of which there were definitely some beauties; But for the creative goaltending that Carey Price and Brian Elliot put on. Seeing Elliot spin around as Corey Perry came in spinning around with his lacrosse style moves was priceless. Until Carey Price decided he’d one up him by stopping a move backwards watching what was happening in the reflection of the glass.
If you want a break down of all the winners you can see that elsewhere but Patrick Kane’s Superman impression on his final two moves wowed the fans enough to beat out Corey Perry who in my opinion had three great moves and should have won.
The other highlight had to be the impressive display of power put on by Chara and Shea Webber who both broke the 106 mph barrier. Chara took the title with a record 108.8 with his second shot of the first round and narrowly beat out Webber in the final with a 106.1 versus Shea’s 106.0
As far as All Star games go this one was actually pretty entertaining, I’m not sure what exactly was different than previous years but the game just seemed to be fun for the players and that translated to a fun game to watch. Ottawa fans got their chance to boo a couple of goals by Daniel Alfredsson and got their chance to boo goals by Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel. I was unable to catch the game on CBC and had to watch the NBC broadcast but I actually found it quite well done compared to what I was expecting. the Mic’d up segments were great and my favorite moments came in the first period listening to Henrik Lundqvist wanting to know when Gaborik was back on the ice to make sure he didn’t get the hat trick against him.
It was also amusing to see Gaborik pull off the Artim Ansimov gun celebration on Lundqvist and John Torterlla who was coaching Team Alfredsson telling Pierre McGuire he was gonna fine Gabby $1000 for it was priceless.
Tim Thomas has now won four All Star games in a row, I wonder who might get picked first next year? Gaborik did complete the hat trick in the second period and won the MVP. The real MVP of this weekend though had to be the fans of Ottawa who were into this event from start to finish and brought a lot of energy to the rink. Columbus gets the game next year, I say we push for a Heritage Classic/Outdoor All Star game in Winnipeg for the 2014 season.
I alluded to it earlier that I felt the players really had fun during this event. While I think its sad that players are declining the invite I believe it’s the best thing for the game. Every player that was there wanted to be there and wanted to have a fun time. That translated to a fun weekend for everyone involved, there were no surprises who were there because they had to be. What I’d like to see is more star players wanting to go and participate in the game and maybe all it will take is a few years of them passing and seeing how much fun they missed out on to change their minds but in the mean time I hope that the weekend can grow off what happened in Ottawa this past weekend because it was two steps in the right direction.