How to make the NHL Skills Competition the Home Run Derby

Jared Clinton
Shea Weber  (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

The MLB’s Home Run Derby took place Monday night, showcasing some of baseball’s biggest hitters in a brand new format that rejuvenated the event and made it fun to watch even for non-baseball fans.

Much like how the MLB changed up the format for the season’s Derby, the NHL’s Skills Competition is more than due for a change. Over the past few seasons the events have become stale and the fanfare, for the most part, seems to have faded to the point where the Skills Competition seems more tedious than enjoyable. Suffice to say that in a weekend that brings together the NHL’s brightest stars, the fantasy draft shouldn’t be the highlight of the three-day event.

So how, exactly, should the NHL change up the Skills Competition to make it a bit more interesting? We have a few ideas. Read more

Why not make trade deadline a made-for-TV event?

Ken Campbell
NHL draft floor  (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Under the watchful eye of chief operating officer John Collins, the NHL has become the most event-driven league among major sports. From the Winter Classic to the All-Star Game fantasy draft to the NHL Awards in Las Vegas, Collins has positioned the NHL as an industry leader when it comes to staging glitzy, revenue-generating spectacles. It has helped build the league into an almost $4 billion business.

So why not make the trade deadline an event? It’s already one of the most highly anticipated days on the NHL calendar, so the league might as well cash in on it and make it even more compelling for fans at the same time. The league could sell a sponsorship deal and auction the television rights to the highest bidder. NHL Trade Deadline Day, brought to you by (insert sponsor’s name here) televised exclusively on (insert network’s name here). It could be much the same as baseball’s winter meetings but on a grander scale. Read more

Does Carey Price have a shot at the Hart Trophy?

Ryan Kennedy
Carey Price (Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

Montreal won another game that it probably should not have last night, beating Dallas 3-2 thanks to 40 saves from Carey Price. The Habs put just 26 shots on net against Kari Lehtonen and took two penalties in the waning minutes of the contest while protecting a one-goal lead.

The Canadiens sit third in the Atlantic Division right now, but with games in hand on Detroit and Tampa, they could seize first in the near future easily. Yet Montreal still has paltry possession numbers, with a Fenwick For percentage in the bottom-10 and an even worse Corsi rating. Which brings up the following question: Does Carey Price deserve some Hart Trophy love this year?

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AHL follows NHL lead with historic scoring at All-Star Game

Jared Clinton
(American Hockey League)

Just one day after the NHL set the combined goal-scoring record for an All-Star Game, the AHL followed suit. The Western Conference and Eastern Conference kept the red light lit, entertaining the Utica Memorial Auditorium crowd.

The historic output by the two teams came on the back of a trio of hat tricks, all of which were scored by Western Conference players en route to a 14-12 victory over the Eastern Conference. Mark McNeill of the Rockford IceHogs (Chicago Blackhawks), Charles Hudon of the Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal Canadiens), and Brendan Leipsic of the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators) formed the hat trick trinity, while Rockford IceHogs blueliner T.J. Brennan led the charge with a goal and five points. Read more

Don’t rip Sidney Crosby for missing the All-Star Game – he gives more than enough of himself

Adam Proteau
Sidney Crosby  (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

Let me see if I’ve got this straight: Sidney Crosby was selfish for missing the NHL’s All-Star Game weekend? It wasn’t enough that he was injured, and would have to sit out the Penguins’ first game after the break – he wasn’t there to shake hands and kiss babies, and that’s all the evidence we need of his moral turpitude? Is that what we’re going with?

If so, one question: just how much of Crosby’s time – or any athlete’s time – is the public entitled to? Who do we think we are, and when did we decide a star’s every waking moment was going to be ours? Why do some of us think there’s a string to be pulled in each player’s back, and all we need to do is stretch that string back, let it snap into place between his shoulder blades, and sit back as they perform for our enjoyment?

This is what I’m talking about: the NHL just announced the return of its World Cup of Hockey in 2016, adding another event to an already-overpacked calendar for its best players. As it is, between the conclusion of the Stanley Cup playoffs in mid-June and the kickoff of NHL training camps in early September, those players have only a handful of weeks to themselves and their families before they’re back on a sheet of ice somewhere or training in a gym. With another destination for Crosby now in 2016, he’ll be busier than ever.

The NHL Awards. The Olympics. The Winter Classic. The list never ends, and because he’s involved with all high-profile events, a player of Crosby’s stature opens up his life to the public at virtually every turn. He’s been in the spotlight since he was a seven-year-old phenom in Nova Scotia. This is to say nothing of his promotional efforts for the team and the NHL’s annual media tour, his endorsement work that also helps the community, and of course, the time he gives to charity.

Does this sound like an individual hoarding their time from the fans and the world around them? How can anyone rationally argue Crosby hasn’t been an incredible ambassador for the sport? Read more

Ovechkin finally gets his car, and it’s for a good cause

Jared Clinton
(via Twitter/Alex Ovechkin)

You wouldn’t have been wrong if it seemed like a joke at first. Alex Ovechkin, one of the game’s wealthiest players, wanting to be picked last so he could score a free car? Couldn’t he just go out and buy a handful of them if he so wished?

Well, it turns out that it wasn’t a joke at all. Ovechkin did want the car and it wasn’t about the money or the car itself so much as it was about giving a gift to someone who could really use it. Read more

GoPro takes you up close and personal for all-star weekend

Jared Clinton
(via GoPro/YouTube)

If you missed All-Star weekend in Columbus, don’t worry. The NHL and GoPro have you covered.

Before the all-star weekend kicked off, the NHL and NHLPA brought their deal with the action camera back into the spotlight with a highlight video that showed some of the game’s premier stars messing around on the ice with the equipment. It gave hope for some new angles for game action, or at least Skills Competition action, during the weekend and GoPro delivered.

Though the video starts with a few establishing shots of the activities outside Nationwide Arena, it quickly shifts inside the building, where our first look is at a grizzled Brent Burns handling a puck in the pre-Skills Competition skate. Read more

Outstanding saves by Crawford, Elliott best plays from All-Star Game

Jared Clinton
(Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Who would have thought that the two best plays from the NHL’s All-Star Game would have come from the goaltenders?

In a game with that much talent, it’s usually the snipers who are putting on a clinic. Alas, it was stops by Chicago Blackhawks netminder Corey Crawford and St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott – a late, injury replacement entry into the game –  that truly stand as the two best highlights from the exhibition. Read more