The NHL has made it official. After hearing suggestions by major broadcasters and news sources, the NHL has decided to include the shootout in the NHL All-Star Game Skills Challenge as an event. Much like the NBA's Slam Dunk Competition, judges will award marks for creativity and outrageousness in the moves shown by the competitiors. In terms of pure fan entertainment, this should dramatically change the Skills Competition. Having watched a few spectacular shootout goals since the shootout was included in NHL games, this gets a major thumbs-up from this writer. And guys like Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Alfredsson, and Vincent Lecavalier will have an opportunity to show off some sick moves while not having to worry about losing a point or affecting their teams' standings.
Honestly, when you can get a guy like Pavel Datsyuk showing off what he does best, isn't that the height of the entertainment value? Datsyuk is a magician with the puck. Here's proof:
Having a guy like Zetterberg in the Shootout Shoot-out can also get the fans out of their seats.
Of course, for pure entertainment value, there has to be some pretty insane moves. Guys cradling the puck on their sticks, spin-o-ramas, and goals from between or behind legs. I know some of the following guys won't make the NHL All-Star Game in Atlanta, but here are some of the more memorable goals.
Marik Malik on Olaf Kolzig.
TSN presents the Top 10 Shootout Goals of 2007-08 thus far.
Yeah, there's some definite beauties in that package. I am happy and excited for this development as it will really allow the players to be creative. The goaltenders, on the other hand, probably won't be all that excited, but the All-Star Game is still a fan event, and this plays directly to them.
Of course, I want to see a player or two duplicate Robbie Schremp's shootout magic. If you missed the article from last year, please click here and check out Schremp's shootout wizardry in the Mad Skills article. Those moves are incredible.
In other All-Star Game news, Roberto Luongo has decided to skip the NHL All-Star Game to be with his wife, Gina, who is expecting a child in the spring. Personally, I would have liked to see him there, but I have no problem with him taking some time off to be with his family. I'm sure some fans will be disappointed, but it gives another player an opportunity to showcase his talents, so it's really more of a wash than a loss.
Overall, I am more excited for this year's All-Star Game in Atlanta than others before it. The shootout is a big part of the NHL now, and I'm happy that the NHL and NHLPA have decided to adapt the showcase event for their stars to include one of the best fan-friendly events of the game.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!