By Zachary Cormier
When the NHL announced the new three-on-three format for their All-Star Game, I have to admit I was fairly skeptical. In fact, I was downright against it. It seemed to me the league had decided to make their annual showcase of talent the most gimmicky one in all of sports.
That is, until I watched the All-Star Game last weekend.
Now I have to admit that I was wrong.
The NHL All-Star weekend, which took place in Nashville this year, was a spectacle to behold. From the Skills Competition to the All-Star Game itself, last weekend’s festivities turned out be the absolute best in recent memory.
As a hockey fan, I have grown tired of the game in recent years. The hockey was awful and the players just didn’t care, which made for a boring game to watch at best and an absolute mockery of the sport at worst.
In fact, the only reason that I was watching this year’s game, in all honesty, was the inclusion of enforcer John Scott, who was voted in as the captain of the Pacific Division team by fans late last year. At that point the 6’8”, 260lb journeyman was a fourth-line player for the Arizona Coyotes.
To say there was drama surrounding Scott’s selection would be a huge understatement. Describing the crazy chain of events that took place between Scott’s selection and the All Star Game itself would take more space than I have, so I won’t.
Instead, let’s just say there was about a week when it looked like Scott was going to be blocked out of the game by the league and when he finally took to the ice for Saturday’s Skills Competition he wasn’t wearing a Phoenix Coyotes’ jersey.
Scott’s selection and good humor during the entire process made him a fan favourite and his story was easily one of the best feel good stories I’ve ever heard.
That all leads up to one of the many great moments that took place this weekend, the moment when Scott went to take his first shot during the hardest shot competition.
When he skated out to the blue line to make his first attempt, he received a resounding standing ovation from the fans and all of the players on the ice.
Remember, this is a guy who figured he would never get to play in an All Star Game. A guy who has scored just six goals in his entire NHL career, not necessarily because he wasn’t capable of scoring but because he knew he had a role to fill.
It was a dream come true for him and the fans and players in the building all wanted to help make this a weekend he would never forget.
The Skills Competition has always one of the bright spots of the All-Star weekend, and this year’s was no different.
We got to see some great things, such as P.K. Subban putting on a mullet wig and pretending to be Jaromir Jagr (if you haven’t seen it, look it up on YouTube because it was hilarious), and Brent Burns finally completing his transformation into Chewbacca.
Then there was the tournament, which took place Sunday afternoon.
It was great. Some excellent hockey, exciting three-on-three action and, of course, some pretty good goals.
The first game ended in a 4-3 after a great comeback, the second and highest scoring game ended 9-6 and the final game, which was an incredibly exciting matchup between the Atlantic and Pacific Divisions, ended up 1-0. A team actually had to pull the goalie in an All-Star Game. It was incredible.
To make matters even better, Scott scored two goals including the Pacific Division’s first goal of the tournament.
That all leads up to my favourite moment of the weekend – the MVP presentations.
After all of the adversity and trouble he went through just to get here, there was only one person who deserved the MVP award.
But I still couldn’t help but cheer as loud as I could when Scott was presented with the award by NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly.
Overall, it was a weekend that will live in hockey fans’ memories as one of the greatest All-Star Games of all time and I, for one, hope that next year’s game will be just as good.