Monday, January 30, 2017
2017 NHL All Star Game
For the first time in several years, I really enjoyed the NHL All Star festivities.
I have read several reports on the All Star contests, both pro and con. One of the indications that I took from the event was that the players were having a fine time. Of course, there were one million reasons why the boys from the Metropolitan Division had a fine weekend. That was a mighty big cheque handed out at centre ice!
At last year's All Star event, John Scott really distinguished himself. He walked away, perhaps I should say “skated away” with the MVP honours from the game, much to the delight of fans and players alike. He was a journeyman player, without question, and is no longer playing hockey. But that was his moment in the sun, and he was paid the ultimate compliment by his teammates. They hoisted him on their shoulders after he received his award. There was even a bit of television coverage of John Scott at home, enjoying his young family.
This year's MVP was Wayne Simmonds from the Philadelphia Flyers. He scored three goals in the shinny tournament held to determine a winner. It was three on three hockey, certainly a challenge. We are familiar with the format, because it is used in regular season overtime. It is exciting hockey, requiring great speed and great goaltending.
The NHL is divided into four divisions. There have been so many changes in the conferences, and the divisions, that I have to check the newspaper to see how they currently line up. Currently, there are four divisions in two conferences. The four teams in the tournament: Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central, and Pacific. Pacific beat Central 10-3, Metropolitan beat Atlantic 10-6. The winners faced off in the final, won by the Metropolitan boys 4-3. Sure, it was a bit confusing, and hardly memorable. But it was good hockey. Games were 20 minutes long.
One of the highlights of the weekend was the homage paid to the top 100 players from the last 100 years. Of course, many have passed away. But almost 50 of the greats of the game showed up. From all of the smiling faces, it was apparent that they all really enjoyed the weekend. Wisely, there was no mention of grading. We can agree on many of the top players, but there will always be disagreements. Gordie Howe is in the top ten on everyone's list (at least he should be). Bobby Orr is on my list as well, as is Bobby Hull. I still maintain that Wayne Gretzky is number one.
I also enjoy the skills competitions. I believe the players enjoy that as well. They hang along the boards chatting while watching their peers shoot for accuracy and for speed. It is always noteworthy to see who is clocked with the fastest speed in the league.
Other noteworthy sports events last week included Roger Federer's victory in the Australian Open against Rafael Nadal. It was a long and grueling five set match. It has been several years between victories in major tournaments for Federer, who is in the twilight of his career, but still the king of the court.
Five Canadian golfers made the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open. Several notable players failed to make the cut, including Tiger Woods in his comeback attempt.
And yes, there is football south of the border this weekend: the New England Patriots will take on the Atlanta Falcons in Houston this coming Sunday. As always, there will be some interesting commercials.
January 30, 2017