Unlike any other sport, the NHL takes a two week hiatus when the Olympics rolls around to send its best players to represent their country. When this happens every four years, the NHL has to cancel one of its most prestigious and biggest money-making events of the season; the All-Star Game. Behind the Winter Classic and the Stanley Cup Finals on a year-to-year basis, and probably the four Stadium Series games installed this year, the All-Star game is one of the biggest spectacles in hockey, usually taking place in late January.
Due to the loss of the ASG this year, I took it upon myself to pick captains, players, teams, and coaches for whom I think would most likely be in this year’s game, who would win each Skills Competition, and what the final score would be had it not of been for the Olympic break. But first, we need some background on the NHL’s All-Star weekend.
- The best players in the league attend the ASG weekend festivities to show off their skills; if they choose not to attend, they receive a small suspension from the league.
- The NHL implemented a “Fantasy Draft” process a few years back in 2011 where instead of the traditional East vs. West game, there are captains selected to draft their team as if they are player GMs. It’s really cool.
- The team is now named after the captain of the respective team (i.e. Team Chara in 2012).
- Fans vote in 6 players to the starting line up from either conference, three forwards, two defensemen, and one goalie.
- The league picks 36 players. 42 veteran players participate in the ASG. (I’m done with math)(for now).
- Plus, if you want to add the 12 rookies who participate in the Skills Competition, that’s 54 players (sorry, stupid math).
- The SuperSkills Competition has been morphed over the years, but five skills remain intact: hardest shot, fastest skater, breakaway challenge, accuracy shooting, challenge relay, and the elimination shootout.
- The actual game is basically the same as any other game, just a little more laid back with higher offense, lower defense, and of course an intermission show.
Let me start by noting my process for picking all the variables of the All-Star weekend. Captains will be selected based on who I think would/should be the captain of each team. The teams will be picked by me acting/thinking as both teams’ captain and assistant captains. Recently there have only been 2 captains, but in my effort to take a step forward in making the weekend more enjoyable/marketable, I will name a third captain to the team. The fan vote is tough for me because it can oscillate year-to-year, so for selfish purposes I will pick who I think would be voted as the starters instead of taking other people’s thoughts into account. For the actual roster as well as the coaches, I will take stats, games played, and personal reasons to pick who I think should get the nod for the game. Rookies will just be determined by mostly stats.
For the SuperSkills Competition I will take who has recently participated in the event into account and choose a winner by past performances, skills, and favoritism. Finally, coaches will based off of Stanley Cup Finals for 2013, conference leaders, and who the finalists for the Jack Adams Award will be this year, maybe.
I’m not entirely sure what the process is for choosing the captains, but Daniel Alfredsson was the captain in 2012 when his home team was hosting the event so I will use that for one criteria. Also, Henrik Lundqvist was an assistant captain as a goalie so goalies are counted in for the bid. We will say a team that hasn’t hosted a a game yet will fill in this year, mostly because I don’t want to do Columbus because they will host the game next year. So for this year, I will let the Washington Capitals be host for this hypothetical game. They are hosting the Winter Classic in 2015, so why not, right? As for the captains, Alexander Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby is the only way I want to see it. With both superstars missing out on the last All-Star game, what other way to reintegrate them into the weekend other than as the captains? As for the assistants, Duncan Keith and Joe Thornton will be on Team Ovechkin, and Jaromir Jagr and Ben Bishop will be on Team Crosby. Ovechkin is the hometown favorite so he will take first pick, even though it is usually based off of a coin toss.
It’s hard to get inside the heads of players in the NHL, and who they would probably take might be different from who a fan like myself would take. As a collective group, they have to discuss it among the other captains and make the decisions based on who they’ve already picked. I am only one man, despite all the rumors, so I will do my best to make a decision with some merit to it.
|Team Ovechkin* (Keith, Thornton)
||Team Crosby* (Jagr, Bishop)
|Nicklas Backstrom*- Ovechkin goes with his teammate, center, and buddy who he’s familiar with. Hockey players are too loyal.
||Chris Kunitz– “BOOOOO” Kunitz is Crosby ‘s teammate. Very questionable 2nd overall pick if you ask me.
|John Tavares– Ovie loves his offense and will come out firing by picking all offense the first couple of rounds, starting with the second leading point scorer behind Crosby.
||Erik Karlsson*– unlike Ovechkin, Crosby likes his defense, but still gets his offense by picking the most dangerous offensive defenseman in the league.
|Steven Stamkos– debatably the purest goal scorer in the league only rivaled by Ovie himself, Stamkos is an easy pick.
||Patrick Kane– Crosby isn’t just looking at the game, but the SuperSkills Comp too. Kane may be the only person to rival Ovie in the Breakaway Challenge.
|Ryan Getzlaf– another high point-getter coming to Team Ovechkin. “Offense wins games.” -Alexander Ovechkin (he really didn’t say this).
||Shea Weber– yet again, TC picks a defenseman who can win the Hardest Shot competition. If Crosby gets another concussion any time soon, I think he should pursue being a GM.
|Tuuka Rask– *Keith and Thornton in Ovie’s ear* “Ovie, we need a goalie or defenseman, what are you doing?!?!”
||Jonathan Toews– collective decision, the three captains hold Toews in high regard and he will help in the Elimination Shootout.
|Dustin Byfuglien– *Keith and Thornton in Ovie’s ear, again* “Ovie, take Byfuglien so he can rival Weber for hardest shot.” *Reluctantly takes defenseman*
||Jonas Hiller– Hiller has been lights out for the Ducks. Bishop says don’t take anymore goalies so he can play the entire game, but Crosby and Jagr make the executive decision.
|Corey Perry– Ovechkin gets back to his offensive prowess with the goal scorer from Anaheim. Put him with his teammate Getzlaf and they will score plenty of goals in the game.
||Ryan McDonagh– very solid two-way defenseman, Team Crosby is going to be hard to crack.
|Josh Harding*- one of the steals of the draft. In his first All Star Game, Harding goes last goalie but has been debatably the best goalie in the league this year.
||Evgeni Malkin– another steal in the draft, Crosby and Malkin will be teamed up to create the “Two-Headed Monster” in the ASG.
|Ryan Suter*- *Keith in Ovechkin’s year* “it’s time for another defenseman.” *UGH*
||Zdeno Chara– wait, what? How is Chara still on the board this late in the draft?? Crosby gets lucky and gets reigning Hardest Shot champion on his team.
|Ryan Miller– *after slapping himself in the face for not getting Chara* *inside Ovie’s thoughts* *if Crosby gets another “Golden Goal” on Miller I’m gonna be super explicit*
||Corey Schneider– this time, Hiller and Bishop tell Crosby and Jagr no more goalies, but the team needs their final goalie this round so this is a default pick.
|Martin St. Louis– Ovechkin starts thinking like Crosby and takes St. Louis for the Elimination Shootout.
||Patrick Marleau– Crosby, Jagr, and Bishop just take Marleau so Thornton can’t have his teammate on his team.
|Brent Seabrook– Keith gets his favorite defensive partner on the team. Ovechkin isn’t happy.
||Tyler Seguin– after being traded to the Stars in the offseason, Seguin proved that he could be an All Star still and Crosby is happy to pick him up.
|Patrick Sharp– Keith again gets into Ovie’s head and gets him to pick Sharpie. Ovie isn’t mad though because Sharp can put up points.
||Kevin Shattenkirk– Shattenkirk has been outstanding for the Blues, Team Crosby loves the team they’ve built around defense and are happy to add Shattenkirk.
|Keith Yandle– Yandle is the defensive backbone in Phoenix, and he can move the puck too. Ovechkin really hates picking defensemen.
||Kyle Okposo– Okposo has been a surprise on Long Island, and though he was snubbed from the US Olympic team, he deserves to be an All Star. They pick him so Tavares can’t play with him.
|Alex Pietriangelo– last time Ovie has to pick a defenseman. He picks Pietriangelo so Crosby has to pick his nemesis Subban.
||P.K. Subban– by default, Crosby gets stuck with one of the thorns in his side, but at least he doesn’t have to play against him.
|Anze Kopitar– of the remaining players, Kopitar is the safest bet for Oveckin besides maybe Duchene, but Ovie hopes Crosby doesn’t pick him next.
||Matt Duchene– *Oveckin mutters in disgust in a deep Russian accent* Crosby picks fellow countryman Duchene, who is pretty fast and has some sick hands.
|Joe Pavelski– having one of his best seasons, Ovechkin picks Pavelski as hopefully another sharp shooter.
||Taylor Hall– he’s been impressive on a non-impressive Oilers team, and he’s fast which should help in the Fastest Skater comp.
|Claude Giroux– as much as Ovechkin would love to stick Claude Giroux with another one of the rivals of Crosby and friends, he couldn’t resist getting another picture of Kessel sitting by himself as the last pick again.
||Phil Kessel– all of Crosby’s picks have been by default it seems, but he doesn’t mind this pick. Crosby gets a sharp shooter, and Kessel gets a new car for being the last pick, again.
Rookies are grouped together and Ovechkin picks the side with Nathan MacKinnon because of MacKinnon’s offensive abilities. Oveckin then tries trading Torey Krug for Chris Kreider and Tomas Hertl, but it is declined.
Patrick Roy, Bruce Boudreau, and Joel Quenville will coach Team Ovechkin, while Dan Bylsma, Jon Cooper and Claude Julien will coach Team Crosby. This was based off of conference leaders (Bylsma, Boudreau), Stanley Cup Finals coaches (Quenville, Julien), and who has done the best job this year with their team in my opinion (Roy, Cooper).
Hardest Shot: Suter vs. Chara
Chara wins. By default.
Fastest Skater: Yandle vs. Kreider
Kreider is easily the fastest player in the event and he wins as the rookie, just like Hagelin in 2012.
Breakaway Challenge: Ovechkin vs. Kane
A heavyweight battle, Ovechkin wins because of the fan vote even though he is out-performed by Kane.
Accuracy Shooting: Stamkos vs. Crosby
Crosby has more videos of him shooting water bottles and pucks off the bench, so he wins by landslide victory.
Challenge Relay: Team. Ovechkin vs. Team Crosby
Team Ovechkin wins this one, better one-timer shooters, better passing, and better target shooters. The only thing Team Ovechkin lacks compared to Team Crosby is puck control, but it’s not enough to make them falter.
Elimination Shootout: St. Louis vs. Toews
Toews takes this one. He’s been one of the best shootout scorers in his career and will steal it from the veteran St. Louis, barely.
It pains me to say it, but Team Ovechkin wins 12-11 in overtime fashion. The offense and goaltending would be too overpowering for Team Crosby. Plus, the coaching on Team Ovie has a much better combined record than their counterparts this year. This year’s MVP would be kind of a surprise, but I think Patrick Sharp would have at least a hat trick and a few assists to lock up this year’s car.
It’s sad there won’t be an All Star game this year. The Olympics are basically the best players going up against each other any how, so it should be way more exciting with Olympic gold as the prize instead of a car.