NHL All-Star Weekend 2016: An All-Star to Remember

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So, I know lately, I’d given the NHL a lot of crap about the whole John Scott All-Star voting debacle (which was well-deserved). However, for this edition of my All-Star blogging, I want to make it nothing but a positive experience, just like the whole weekend was altogether.

On Saturday, there was the All-Star Skills Competition, involving all the things we know: the Breakaway Challenge, Fastest Skater, Accuracy Shooting, some saucer passing and one-timers and stick-handling (all part of the Skills Challenge Relay), Hardest Shot, and — of course — the shootout.

Now, I don’t remember watching the All-Star Skills Competition so much, most likely because I never really cared much. Last year’s was… I guess, okay, but that’s also probably only because I just remember seeing Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara blasting a slapper for what I believe still holds up as the hardest shot in the NHL.

However, this year, since Chara didn’t make the voting, it was Shea Weber’s shot. And, well… let’s just say you really don’t want to get in front of his shots if you’re not looking to fracture a bone in your body. Aside from that and the other more serious events like the Accuracy Shooting and Skills Relay, let’s talk about one of the many greatest moments from Saturday night’s events. First off, how can you not love the passion of Sharks’ forward-turned-defensemen Brent Burns, along with Joe Pavelski? That first attempt by ‘Burnzie’ was so freakin’ CUUUUUTE, thanks in large part to Pavs who apparently suggested the idea of doing a MUCH CUTER version of last year’s Flying V, with their kids involved? I mean, how freakin’ cute was that?! That most definitely won the hearts of hockey fans watching.

Last, but not least, ‘Burnzie’ then proceeds to cap off his two attempts by doing something that we totally did not see coming (at least I didn’t; maybe I should have). Right before his second attempt, the lights at Bridgestone Arena dim as all of us waited, and the next thing we know, the Star Wars theme was playing. What followed thereafter was an absolute string of hilarity, as the Brent Burns beard evolution pictures were on full display, one by one, until…

Did someone hire Chewbacca to take Burns’ place? I kid, but that Chewbacca shootout attempt was probably the funniest thing I’d ever seen in an All-Star Skills Competition since being a fan of hockey. We all know who won the Breakaway challenge though. I have to give props to Montreal’s PK Subban for creativity, not just with the puck and stick balancing and bouncing act, but attempting a Jaromir Jagr look-alike. I mean, hey. You only get the opportunity to actually skate alongside the ageless wonder for so long before he FINALLY hangs up the skates.

 

Annnnd that brings us back to the Hardest Shot competition one last time tonight because two words: John. Scott.

That’s right. The moment we’d all been waiting for, the one man the NHL had tried so damn hard to punk and bully they still failed absolutely miserably, it was finally the enforcer’s time to shine. And I gotta admit, I’m impressed with his shots. 95.9 and 103 mph is pretty damn good, especially considering he said himself he could shoot it hard.

Now onto the shootout, because once again, John Scott. And even though the spin-o-rama move has been banned by the League for quite a few seasons now, he still did it because why the hell not? This is the All-Star Weekend, is it not? Screw the rules of the shootout and let’s just have fun. More on the “fun” part later.

Now that everyone’s had fun in the All-Star Skills Competition, turn the clock a couple hours later to 2 PM Sunday. It was time for the All-Star Game, that… players are still excited about and still showed why NHLers are the elite of the elite, but again, it was all in good fun. The Atlantic Division had eliminated the Metro Division in the Quarter Finals, so now the Pacific Division and Central were up.

What ensued were moments that John Scott is guaranteed to never, ever forget in his life. Not only did the Pacific Division still give the Central a good can of you-know-what, John Scott, the captain, scored his very first All-Star goal, assisted by the very person and player who said would set him up, Brent Burns. What a moment that must’ve been, and it happened again later in the game as ‘Burnzie’ would set up the Pacific Division captain on a breakaway for his second goal of the night and All-Star Game. Second goal, and it was scored top shelf. And then, as if Scott wasn’t already having the time of his life, he jokingly accepted Chicago’s Patrick Kane’s invitation to drop the gloves (’cause we know how much Scott hates him).

While he never got the All-Star hat trick the crowd and hockey fans on social media wanted him to have (gee, thanks Drew Doughty), he still got the one thing he’d always wanted in his entire life and career: acceptance. Now, not only had the League and Gary Bettman given into the fans’ outrage of forcibly pulling him out of the game, but he spread the message we fans had been shouting and drumming into the League’s deaf ears all along: this is a game for the fans. That showed tonight as John Scott got one final encore in Music City: the crowd chanting “MVP”. Not only that, when it came time for the voting to begin for the All-Star MVP fan vote, the fans spoke on Twitter, and they spoke loud and clear: “VoteMVPScott”. The result is pretty easy to guess. Even though Scott was never on the list of MVP choices, he was a write-in, and he had won.

I guess after all this, all I’m trying to say is that this All-Star Weekend that most people thought was going to be bland and boring turned into the most entertaining event in modern NHL history, all because of us fans. The fans spoke loud and clear what they wanted, or what we wanted I should say. The League tried to override us, but it didn’t work. What was initially a joke ended up being a memory of a lifetime for a guy who already had a tough job and a tough enough life to begin with as an enforcer. The NHL didn’t win. Hockey did. Hockey won in general. Us fans won. The Pacific Division won, but most importantly, John Scott won. What he and his teammates decide to do with the million dollar check is up to them, but Scott also won something more important, that didn’t involve a dollar amount. Congratulations, John Scott. You won. And by the way, to all you people who didn’t like it or thought it wasn’t fun, lighten up a little!

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