Former NHLer Scott Thornton won this year's Battle of the Blades competition, which wrapped up Sunday. This CBC production pairs ex-NHLers with accomplished female figure skaters in an entertaining and unique blend of two ice sports.
Battle of the Blades wrapped up its fourth season Sunday with former NHLer Scott Thornton skating away with the title alongside his professional figure skating partner Amanda Evora.
When the season began, I didn’t have Thornton and Evora in my personal top three. Their first skate together was mostly about lifts and lacked the creative element. But as the competition wore on, they picked up their game and were full credit for the win.
From the beginning, I preferred the pairs that ended up finishing second and third. Jason Strudwick teamed up with Violetta Afanasieva and were the best character skaters and had very entertaining routines. They placed second. In third were the pair of Mathieu Dandenault and Marie-France Dubreuil. Other ex-NHLers in this year’s competition were Grant Marshall, Brian Savage, Anson Carter, Vladimir Malakhov and Mike Krushelnyski.
P.J. Stock, who skated with Afanasieva in Season 2, was a most-entertaining judge. He replaced Jeremy Roenick on the three-member judging panel. The Sunday night entertainment is hosted by Hockey Night In Canada punster Ron MacLean.
If you haven’t seen Battle of the Blades, it’s a CBC production that matches former NHL players with accomplished figure skaters. The competition is spread over eight or nine weeks and the skaters earn money for their charities. Thornton and Evora raised $100,000 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
I really enjoyed the first season in which Craig Simpson teamed with Jamie Sale on a very watchable Austin Powers routine en route to victory. Tie Domi and the late Bob Probert were the first two ex-NHLers to sign up for the competition. The skaters are graded by a panel of judges, but results are largely determined by viewer vote.
Season 2 was won by Val Bure and Katia Gordeeva. In Season 3, a female hockey player teamed up with a male figure skater for the first time and it was a great combination as Tessa Bonhomme and David Pelletier skated to victory.
A common theme in each of the seasons is how those in the figure skating community are amazed at how quickly the ex-hockey players embrace the nuances of their sport. The ex-NHLers all say they gain a new appreciation for the hard work and mettle needed in figure skating.
Thornton, as was pointed out numerous times during the competition, never won a Stanley Cup in 17 seasons and almost 1,000 games with Toronto, Edmonton, Montreal, Dallas, San Jose and Los Angeles. He won this title.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN