It may have been Nick Lidstrom’s team victory in the end with a tight 11-10 final score, but this game was all about Eric Staal, the hometown hero of Raleigh, Carolina. On top of the Captain role, putting together his team and helping out with making the lines, he also showed some good humour by letting himself be miked during the game itself. His sound bites provided the best entertainment on the night, even though the game wasn’t too bad.
The NHL All-Star game needed a bit of spontaneous and uncensored fun from ice level. While most fans assume that there’s a fair bit of chirping going on every game, it was something else to hear it live, with all the “ahhs!” and “no, no, no” and to hear him egging on his brother on the bench. It also made us appreciate the role of the Captain, who is not only expected to play the game, but also to lead his team, not just through example, but through focus and communication.
Tim Thomas also showed some good humour with the media, letting himself be miked during some tough times in net. All of the goaltenders played well on the night, not wanting to let the game be all about the forwards. It’s nice to see that even when they’re not playing for stakes, they’re still competitors and some of them played like it was any other game. Jonas Hiller even took one off the mask and dived into the splits to make a save during his second period shift. Impressive for any game, exhibition or not.
Ovechkin clearly couldn’t resist the urge to make a little mischief, as he threw down his stick as a late defensive move on Matt Duchene in the third, leading to a penalty shot. While this would clearly be a bad move in the regular season, it’s fun to see some of the guys taking advantage of this particular game to do some of the things that they would never do.
Much ado was made about the separation of the Sedins, but that didn’t stop the two of them from getting on the board, showing that they can still be stars without the other- in a no stakes game. But knowing the strong influence of twin power, it’s doubtful that this scenario will ever repeat itself in a regular NHL game.
It was touching to see the kids present at the game for the players and coaches alike; it’s clear that the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree when you see their little faces. Danny Briere got a great compliment from his son when asked what his favourite part of the weekend was and he simply said “hanging out with my dad.”
The impromptu game interviews were fine for the most part, but it’s clear that great stats aren’t an indication of personality. Johnathon Toews and Carey Price are about as interesting as cardboard in their interviews and the coaches seemed to be there to pat players on the back. It was obvious that there was no strategy being employed and it does feel a little strange to see them without their arms crossed while furiously chewing gum.
The NHL Guardian Project was so old school cheesy that it wasn’t even funny. Some of the mascots are unimaginative while others are just weird. If Brian Burke is going to be mad at the end of all this, and it’s a guarantee that he will be given the Kessel situation, he should also be incensed at their superhero mascot which is an enormous tree. Yes, a tree. Toronto should be livid.
All in all, the NHL All-Star weekend is a fun, harmless event that is obviously made for the kiddies (a 4pm game start time? You can’t even order pizza at that hour in most cities). This trend will likely continue, too, as the event rolls into Ottawa next year, a real family city that will be happy to see yet another family-friendly event to add to their never-ending roster of the Wiggles and Disney on Ice at Scotiabank Place.
About the Author
Written by Mika Oehling
Office worker and sports nerd. Cannot play a professional sport to save my life, but love to write. Prone to rants, raves, snarky humour and caustic commentary. My team's the Ottawa Senators. Author of Armchair Hockey, a work of humourous fiction released this year and available for sale online at Chapters and Amazon.