When I was a kid, the NHL skills competition was one of the best days of the year. Back in the days before you could easily watch any player in the league, this was not only one of the rare times where you could see them in action, but without helmets in a fun atmosphere. It was during the skills competition that I first became aware that Al Iafrate was bald. He had been employing the hockey equivalent of a comb-over, better known as a “helmet”.

It was also a place where things that were often talked about were officially confirmed…

Mike Gartner was fast.
Al MacInnis could hammer the puck.
Patrick Roy was…well…really good.

So with that, I give you my all time skills competition 3 stars

3rd Star Alexander Ovechkin

This pains me to give him the 3rd Star because of his “boo hoo, I got suspended so I don’t want to go All-Star weekend” display. However, I do have to admit that Ovechkin understands (at least he did) something better than everyone else: This is for the fans. He has won the first three individual breakaway challenges and done it with some flare:

2nd Star Al MacInnis

When most people talk about the hardest shooter competition, they bring up 2 names: Al Iafrate and Zdeno Chara. Iafrate because with the aforementioned skullet flowing, he hammered the puck a then record 105.2 mph. Chara because he broke that record and is the four time defending champion. How about the guy who won the competition SEVEN times??? MacInnis has back to back wins AND a four-pete. And he did it all with a big boys haircut. (Proving my point earlier, I couldn’t find a MacInnis Skills competition video on the net, but I think the following vid proves he can shoot the puck pretty hard)

1st Star- Ray Bourque

We all knew Bourque could shoot the puck, you don’t score 410 goals without having a hard, accurate shot. But his dominance in the accuracy shooting contest became routine. He won 3 of the first 4 events and went on to win (or tie) the event 8 times. He takes the first star because his back to back years of 4-shots 4-goals is the greatest accomplishment in skills competition history.



Let’s head to the Links

One of the big surprises at the draft last night, Joffrey Lupul is pretty funny (Pension Plan Puppets)

Katie Baker from Grantland breaks down the saga that is Tim Thomas and the week that was in the NHL

Regardless of where All Star weekend is located, there are always plenty of interactive games for the fans. Dirty Dangle found a few interesting ones

Is the Coyotes ownership situation like Groundhog day? James O’Brien of Pro Hockey Talk thinks so

I LOVE when super smart people on Jeopardy can tell us the author of a poem written in 1623, but miss SUPER easy sports questions (Puck Daddy)

The guys at the Days of Y’orr think that Shanaban has been inconsistently consistent

Big surprise this season has been the Florida Panthers, and The Rat Trick breaks down 5 things that need to be done after the All Star Break

Will the All Star break help or hurt the Rangers? (Blueshirt banter)

And last night Logan Couture was picked last…here is his reaction to winning the car