Alex Galchenyuk, center, smiles with officials from the Montreal Canadiens after being chosen third overall in the first round of the NHL hockey draft on Friday, June 22, 2012, in Pittsburgh. The Canadiens have signed their first round pick Galchenyuk to a three-year, entry-level contract. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Keith Srakocic
Author: The Hockey News
Canadiens sign first round pick Alex Galchenyuk to a three-year contract
The Breakaway Challenge is no more, but the often ridiculous event at the skills competition offered up some fantastic moments and great laughs. Take a look back at the five best attempts.
The highlight of the NBA’s all-star weekend, almost without fail, is the Slam Dunk Contest. The event has delivered moments like Michael Jordan’s foul line dunk, Vince Carter’s forearm in the rim jam and last season’s phenomenal showdown between Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine.
It would only make sense then that the NHL would try its hand at imitating the event, creating the Breakaway Challenge as its version of the dunk competition. The goal was simple: wow the crowd with incredible displays of puckhandling or win them over with props and creativity. Most players went for the latter, and it’s been one of the more ridiculous and comical events at the all-star weekend over the past six skills competitions.
However, after its six-season run as one of the weekend’s events, the NHL has decided to do away with the Breakaway Challenge, according to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos. The news only a couple of weeks before the league is set to head to Los Angeles for the All-Star Game and is at least a slight indication that some new competitions could be part of the format.
With the Breakaway Challenge no more, though, let’s take a look back at five of the very best and most memorable moments from the contest:
5. Johansen gets some help, but Voracek one-ups him
Ryan Johansen had the Columbus crowd in the palm of his hands by using an Ohio State jersey as a prop, and he really got the crowd on its feet by getting a youngster to help bury a shot. It was a great moment, for sure, but Jakub Voracek really got the crowd laughing by stealing Johansen’s idea with the help of another kid on hand: diminutive Flames star Johnny Gaudreau.
4. Ovechkin is the new Captain Canada
If this is the end of the Breakaway Challenge for good, then Alex Ovechkin will go down as the greatest participant the competition has ever had. He won the first ever event in 2008 and with the chance to defend his crown in 2009, he pulled out all the stops, getting a hand from fellow countryman Evgeni Malkin and endearing himself to the Montreal crowd with an interesting choice of headwear.
3. The transformation of Burns
It almost doesn’t matter which team you support when it comes to Brent Burns. He’s an absolute stud on the blueline for the Sharks, he’s one of the most exciting players in the game, he’s got a unique love of animals and he has a Harry Potter tattoo. That last one will only please a certain generation of fan, but it’s indicative of the personality he brings. Burns also isn’t afraid to make light of his grizzled appearance, and he pulled off the perfect gag at the 2016 All-Star Game.
2. SuperKane takes center stage in Ottawa
Ovechkin was the king of the Breakaway Challenge for three straight All-Star Games, and it took a superhuman performance by Patrick Kane for someone to finally take the crown from the ‘Great 8.’ Kane went prop heavy with his attempts, but the clever use of an “exploding” puck was really the topper.
1. Subban pays tribute to greatness
As he continues his career well into his 40s, Jaromir Jagr’s status as one of the game’s most beloved players grows, and that seemingly goes for both players and fans alike. So, how do you win over an entire crowd and one of the greatest players the game has ever seen in one breakaway attempt? Well, you throw on a mullet, a Jagr jersey, some Cooperalls and cap it off with a salute.
Andreas Athanasiou’s combination of speed and skill was on full display Saturday night against the Penguins when he pulled off a stunning end-to-end rush.
Montreal Canadiens center Phillip Danault wowed with an impressive solo rush for one of the prettiest goals of the season earlier this week against the Winnipeg Jets, and one has to hope he enjoyed his time as the owner of the greatest end-to-end rush of the campaign because he has to pass the crown to Detroit Red Wings winger Andreas Athanasiou.
During Saturday’s meeting between the Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins, Athanasiou, who is one of the fastest players in the game today, showed off his incredible wheels with a jaw-dropping rush up the ice. Picking the puck up behind the Detroit goal, Athanasiou saw open ice and took it.
Athanasiou darted through the neutral zone, leaving Evgeni Malkin in his wake, then headed straight at the Penguins’ defense. Looking at a potential one-on-three situation, Athanasiou moved to his right to single out Justin Schultz, deked around the defender and rifled the puck over the shoulder of Marc-Andre Fleury. Check it out:
For all that skill and speed, it’s comical how subdued Athanasiou was in celebrating the tally. That kind of play would have warranted a near shoulder separating fist pump, but, instead, Athanasiou went about celebrating the goal like he had potted a tap-in.
Though Athanasiou doesn’t get a ton of ice time in Detroit — he’s averaging less than 13 minutes per game — he’s having a pretty solid sophomore season. He’s played nine games fewer than he did in his rookie season, but Athanasiou has matched his nine-goal, 14-point performance and is on pace for a 20-goal campaign in his second season in the league.
Shane Doan has spent his entire career with the same organization, but he would reportedly consider a trade if the right opportunity presented itself. Even if he does leave, though, don’t rule out a Doan return to Arizona by next season.
The best years of Shane Doan’s career are behind him, there’s no doubt about that, but the veteran winger can still chip in as a bottom-six player, and that could make him enticing come the trade deadline. And according to a report, Doan might actually be willing to accept a trade if the Coyotes can find a good fit.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday evening that Doan, 40, could very well acquiesce to Arizona’s request for him to waive his no-trade clause if the team approaches him with a deal that would be a fit for both the Coyotes going forward and give the franchise’s longtime captain a shot at chasing a championship at the tail end of his career.
Said Friedman: “(The Coyotes are) looking at it like, ‘He’s not going to be here forever, we have to see who else can be the leaders of the team, maybe we might have to move on, but we want to put Shane Doan in a situation where he’d be happy.’ ”
The difficult thing for the Coyotes is that moving Doan isn’t likely to fetch the team all that much in return, so dealing him may be more as a service to Doan than anything.
Through 42 games this season, Doan has just four goals and 12 points and his ice time has diminished by more than two minutes per game. That’s part and parcel with being the veteran leader on a team that’s getting younger — Doan is simply fading into the background while the young players take over the bigger minutes — but it means that any team acquiring Doan will be likely to look at him as a bottom-six piece and nothing more. His name value might be enough to upgrade the return, but it shouldn’t be by any significant measure.
That’s not the only difficulty for Arizona GM John Chayka when it comes to dealing Doan, either. There’s also the matter of finding a team that would offer a suitable situation for Doan and has the cap space to acquire him. Despite the fact he’s no longer a key contributor, Doan’s cap hit is close to $4 million. The deadline offers teams a bit more wiggle room given they’re acquiring only part of the contract, but even still, there aren’t many top contenders who will have the want, need or space to bring in Doan without Arizona potentially retaining some salary. On the plus side, retained salary could mean a bigger return for the Coyotes.
If Doan does move on at or before the trade deadline, it will be intriguing to see if the change of scenery or chance at a title gives him a boost in the back half of the year. However, it is somewhat disappointing that one of the few times it has really seemed like Doan could move on comes at a point in his career where he’s not the same player he was even three or four seasons earlier.
Doan has for years been in a position where he could have possibly moved on from the Coyotes, and while there’s no knowing exactly how close some trade talks may have come at past deadlines and what have you, Doan had a real opportunity to head elsewhere back during the off-season ahead of the 2012-13 campaign. Doan, then 35, remained a free agent through the entire summer and into September ahead of the lockout-shortened campaign, but eventually inked a four-year, $21.2-million deal to remain in Arizona.
And no matter what happens with Doan at or before the trade deadline, don’t rule out the possibility of him suiting up for the Coyotes come the start of the 2017-18 season. Chayka said the Coyotes and Doan are taking a year-to-year approach and the door would remain open for Doan to return if he decided he wanted to. So even if Doan does wave goodbye to Arizona, his absence might only be temporary.
Canadiens winger Andrew Shaw was booted from Saturday’s game against the New York Rangers for a blindside hit on Jesper Fast. Shaw was playing in his first game after missing nearly a month due to a concussion.
Andrew Shaw made his return to the Montreal Canadiens’ lineup Saturday night after spending the past 14 games on the sideline with a concussion, and less than 17 minutes into his first period of play in nearly a month, Shaw found himself hitting the showers early.
Shaw earned himself the boot from Saturday’s game with the Rangers late for a highly questionable hit on Jesper Fast as he was exiting New York’s zone. Shortly after Fast moved the puck up ice, Shaw approached from the right wing, cut hard towards Fast and drove clean through Rangers winger. The hit sent Fast crashing hard to the ice, and Shaw was chased down by New York’s J.T. Miller, who dropped the gloves in defense of Fast.
With only minutes remaining in the period, Shaw headed to the dressing room as a result of the fight, but the officials ensured that his night was over by handing a major for interference and a game misconduct:
The hit by Shaw is definitely one the league will be taking a look at, but it’s unlikely the hit warrants supplemental discipline. Despite the fact it’s a blindside blow and one that came far later than it should have, Shaw appears to have caught Fast squarely on the shoulder. The result of the hit was unfortunate, to be sure, but that alone won’t make the hit worthy of a suspension for Shaw. In addition, the league may very well rule that Shaw’s punishment of a major penalty and what amounts to two-thirds of a game with the misconduct will suffice.
Even with all of that, though, it wouldn’t be shocking if someone from the league reaches out to Shaw, at the very least. He hasn’t been in the good books with the league almost from the outset of the season. In his very first game in a Canadiens uniform during the pre-season, Shaw landed himself a three-game pre-season ban for a hit from behind and upon returning to the lineup found himself again the target of suspension chatter for a slew foot in his regular season debut. The league reviewed the play, but no discipline was handed out beyond the match penalty Shaw was given.
When he’s been making headlines for the right reasons, Shaw, 25, has been exactly as advertised for the Canadiens. He has six goals and 15 points in 29 games and has been an agitator in the middle of the lineup.