Last year the All-Star Week
end was held in Dallas and I got to go to the SuperSkills competition. I was a little overly focused on Philippe Boucher the whole time, so I managed to enjoy it, but without really keeping up with what was going on (I watched it later on TiVo). The SuperSkills is usually my favorite part of the All-Star event.
This year the NHL changed some stuff around for the SuperSkills Competition. They added a breakaway challenge where the creativity was judged, and they added an obstacle course and a one-timer challenge. They also changed the “fastest skater” event to a straightaway sprint instead of laps.
Another big change is the amount of online access that the NHL puts up. The NHL Network had an all-day kind of pre-game show, but it also played online with some delay. There were player interviews and morning skate footage and just general milling around, which I love. Versus might think that Tap-Out and WEC WrekCage might be more important to broadcast, but they are incorrect.
Versus did a pretty good job of the actual skills competition, except for the first event. The new obstacle course relay thingie was so confusing, because they insisted on knee-high, swooping, on-the-ice camera angles. They don’t seem to understand that sometimes an overview shot is actually much better.
My suggestion to Versus is to try a couple of dry runs with their ideas before the actual show. (This is my suggestion to the NHL, too, by the way [read: RBK uniform debacle].) I think they would have seen that the camera positions would need to be adjusted.
The camera work for the rest of the game was not nearly as bad, but they used the annoying behind-the-player angle a lot. You know, most of what a hockey player does happens in front of him. When the player is between you and the stick and the puck, you can’t tell what’s going on. Players would make better doors than they would windows.
I can understand it if you want to skate along with him, but do it from the side, or from a much higher angle.
The rest of the events were enjoyable in their own ways. Tomas Kaberle of the Toronto Maple Leaves got 4 out of 4 in the accuracy event, which was pretty impressive. The new breakaway event was judged for creativity, but the first few shooters suffered from not really knowing what it would be like. They were afraid to give up their chance at a goal. But once it was apparent that the tricks could win it even if they didn’t score, the picked up the fun. Next year, it should be a lot better (although the kneejerkers of the world would probably just cancel it as failed).
I really enjoyed the YoungStars event this time. Even I would admit that last year’s YoungStars was a failure. But they did the right thing by just accepting the fact that there won’t be any defense and run with it. It was 3-on-3 with no stoppages and running time for two 6-minute sections. It looked fun and it looked like the kids were having fun. Happy Meals got a couple of good chances himself and set up a couple of others. They really did that one the right way.
After this weekend, it’s the tense part of the season for me. It’s the run for the playoffs, and the trade deadline is on the horizon, so it’s fraught with peril.
But first, I’m going to enjoy the All-Star Game tonight. Just because it’s fun.