Part of the NHL’s 100thanniversary season was the league’s annual All-Star Game and Skills Competition which was held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on January 28-29. The NHL kept the three-on-three game format it introduced last season with each of the four divisions being represented by a team of 11 All Stars. The Pacific Division beat the Central 10-3 in the first matchup with the Metropolitan downing the Atlantic Division 10-6 in the second contest. The Metropolitan Division then beat the Pacific 4-3 in the final and took home the $1 million prize. Each game consisted of two 10-minute halves. Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds was named the tournament’s MVP.
There were six events in the skills competitions the night before with the two most popular being the hardest shot and fastest skater events. There weren’t any surprises though as forward Connor McDavid, the captain of the Edmonton Oilers, won the skating competition and defenceman Shea Weber of the Montreal Canadiens recorded the hardest slap shot. McDavid skated a lap of the rink in 13.02 seconds while forward Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning placed second at 13.16. The Florida Panthers’ Vincent Trochek was third at 13.32 seconds. Goaltender Mike Smith of the Arizona Coyotes thrilled fans by shooting the puck from his own goal line and depositing it through a small target in the net at the other end of the rink in the four-lines challenge event.
As for the hardest shot, Weber was favoured to win since he entered the contest as the two-time defending champion. His hardest shot registered 102.8 mph (miles per hour) on the radar gun to lead the way. However, some fans may have been surprised that 18-year-old Finnish rookie Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets wasn’t too far behind him in second place at 101.7 mph. They were the only two players to reach the 100 mph mark. Columbia Blue Jackets’ defenceman Seth Jones hit 98.1 mph to place third and Washington Capitals’ captain Alex Ovechkin reached 97.8 mph for fourth place.
Weber may be losing a little of power though since he won the event last year at 108.1 mph and two years ago he reached 108.5 mph. Defenceman Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins is still the record holder with a 108.8 mph shot in 2012. Pittsburgh Penguins’ captain Sidney Crosby won the accuracy shooting event by nailing all four targets in 10.73 seconds. The skills challenge relay was won by the Metropolitan Division with its team of Jones, Ovechkin, Simmonds and goaltender Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals. They managed to complete the course in 1 minute 21.07 seconds. The Atlantic Division topped the Pacific 4-1 in the shootout event and won the overall skills competition.
This allowed them to choose the game time and their opponent for the three-on-three tournament on Sunday and they chose to play the second game against the Metropolitan Division. The NHL also announced its list of the league’s top 100 players of all time which was chosen by a panel of 58 former players, media members and league executives. We might as well list them here so you don’t have to go searching for them. The top 100 NHL players in no particular order are:
Sid Abel, Syl Apps, Andy Bathgate, Jean Beliveau, Max Bentley, Toe Blake, Johnny Bower, Turk Broda, Johnny Bucyk, King Clancy, Charlie Conacher, Alex Delvecchio, Bill Durnan, Bernie Geoffrion, Glenn Hall, Doug Harvey, Tim Horton, Gordie Howe, Red Kelly, Ted Kennedy, Dave Keon, Elmer Lach, Ted Lindsay, Frank Mahovlich, Dickie Moore, Howie Morenz, Jacques Plante, Henri Richard, Maurice Richard, Terry Sawchuk, Milt Schmidt, Eddie Shore, Georges Vezina, Bobby Orr, Brad Park, Larry Robinson, Serge Savard, Ken Dryden, Tony Esposito, Bernie Parent, Yvan Cournoyer, Bob Gainey, Bobby Hull, Guy Lafleur, Bobby Clarke, Marcel Dionne, Phil Esposito, Jacques Lemaire, Stan Mikita, Gilbert Perreault, Jean Ratelle, Darryl Sittler, Mike Bossy, Mike Gartner, Jari Kurri, Wayne Gretzky, Pat LaFontaine, Mark Messier, Denis Savard, Peter Stastny, Bryan Trottier, Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey, Al MacInnis, Denis Potvin, Borje Salming, Grant Fuhr, Billy Smith, Chris Chelios, Brian Leetch, Scott Niedermayer, Scott Stevens, Dominik Hasek, Patrick Roy, Pavel Bure, Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille, Brendan Shanahan, Sergei Fedorov, Peter Forsberg, Ron Francis, Mario Lemieux, Eric Lindros, Mike Modano, Joe Nieuwendyk, Adam Oates, Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin, Steve Yzerman, Martin Brodeur, Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Pronger, Teemu Selanne, Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Alexander Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews and Jaromir Jagr.
Since there are almost 300 players in the Hockey Hall of Fame it was obvious that dozens of great players would have to be left off the list with some of the most notable names missing being Jarome Iginla, Dale Hawerchuk, Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Joe Thornton, Larry Murphy, Doug Gilmour, and Evgeni Malkin.