Saturday, January 24, 2009

Selling the game: SuperSkills afterthoughts

Alex the Great reigns supreme, Zdeno Chara blasts his way into the record books and Evgeni Malkin earns the title of premier sniper...and Ovechkin's prop assistant.

Let's do a little recap of the event.

The event got off to a shaky start when some terrible pop-singer pweformed, garnering a collective "meh" from the crowd. Just a note for future halftime entertainers, when you have to say "c'mon make some noise!" twice, you should just take the check and go home.

Next came the NHL's "artistic" portion of the pregame entertainment featuring a spinning organ meshed with pop music. The organ part was creepy and the organist looked like an understudy from "Phantom of the Opera." So what did we learn? Mixing classic organ themes such as "Hava Nagila" with pop-rock and a spinning floor results in EPIC FAIL.

The Fastest Skater competition was what you would expect it to be, but frankly I found it to be one of the lesser events on the night. Maybe it was seeing a video of Mike Gartner and Peter Bondra face off in the 90s that made me miss the "dueling" format.

I could probably write a whole blog post about the Breakaway Challenge, but I'll keep it short. Martin St. Louis had the best trick shot hands down while Ovechkin had the wackiest shot. I guess we learned that skill is lesser to a bucket hat with tacky sunglasses.

For the record, the color commentators noticed that Ovechkin had pulled out his cell phone after the BAC and thought he was voting. He was actually posting on Twitter, leaving this message for all to see.

"Did ya like it?"

Moving along we now reach the low point of the night, possibly lower than the spinning organ of fail.

The YoungStars game sucked. I'm glad that Nicklas Backstrom didn't take part in that 18 minute snoozefest. The YoungStars game needs some serious re-tooling. Maybe next year they should do Rookies vs. Seniors. I mean wouldn't it be fun to see Mats Sundin, Claude Lemieux, Sergei Fedorov and Brenden Shanahan take on a crop of youngsters?

The Accuracy Competition was like the Fastest Skater, entertaining but nothing too special. The Hardest Shot saw Zdeno Chara beat Al Iafrate's record as he blasted home a 105.4 MPH shot. The Shootout Elimination Challenge was fun for the first few shooters, but it seemed like a cheap way to tell the players "exit stage left."

All-in-all, it was a great night even if some of the events lacked the excitement of the Breakaway Challenge. The players were having fun, and that's how you sell a game, showing your top players enjoying themselves.

It was a great sight to see players texting their votes for the Breakaway Challenge and erupting in laughter when Ovechkin donned his shades. Then there was Malkin and other players signing jerseys that were thrown over the glass and playing to the crowd.

The players' jovial attitude radiated with the fans and created an event that will be remembered for being fun. Let's hope this continues into the actual All-Star Game.

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