The NHL Skills Competition last night was a pretty good showing of the talent that the NHL has. Alexander Ovechkin, pictured to the left, showed a little moxie by donning a tilly hat and large sunglasses - an NHL first - in the Breakaway Challenge to win the event. Zdeno Chara broke Al Iafrate's hardest shot record, ironically set in Montreal in 1993, by hammering a puck at 105.4 mph. That's a cannon. Evgeni Malkin won the Shooting Accuracy event by going 4-for-4, and then 3-for-4 in overtime against Dany Heatley. Andrew Cogliano won the footrace in the Fastest Skater event, and Shane Doan won the Elimination Shootout over Marc Savard. The rookies beat the sophomores in the YoungStars game, and it appeared that everyone, fans included, had a good time.
In one of the best images all night, Doan would return to the bench after shooting in the Elimination Shootout where his daughter, Gracie, would greet him with a huge hug when he scored. With inspiration like that, who wouldn't want to keep scoring, right? I won't lie - I was pulling for Doan as soon as the CBC started showing Gracie's excitement for her dad's scoring. Congratulations to Shane and Gracie on winning the event!
Ok, there's a pile of stuff that I need to clean-up on this blog, so I'm going to spend today doing that, and I'll have an announcement below for a few articles this week. Let's get to that cleaning stuff. It only piles up more when you procrastinate.
- TSN slipped up a little on Wednesday, but I'm sure they were more concerned with the All-Star Game. However, it's still important that they not publish incorrect information. The New Jersey Devils play in the Atlantic Division, not the Atlanta Division. Oops!
- In hunting through Uni Watch Blog's membership card gallery, it occurred to me that there are quite a few hockey fans. In searching through the gallery, there were a ton of hockey designs that really deserve a good look. So I put together a little image of the Uni Watch Blog Hockey Card All-Stars. Scan through and see if you can pick out where the images are from. All the answers are on UW's gallery.
- If you base the winner of the All-Star Game on leadership, it appears that this year's Western Conference team will win. The Western Conference team features eight team captains and five alternate captains, whereas the Eastern Conference team features only three captains and six alternate captains.
- That goalie who stood in between the pipes during the Breakaway Challenge yesterday was a 21 year-old Montreal native named Jason Maggio. He plays for the Junior AA Vipers just outside of Montreal, and did a pretty good job in the net yesterday despite stopping 29 of 34 shots. Good work, Jason!
- In one of the funnier stories of All-Star Game history, Tony Esposito made a pretty big impression on teammate Pete Peeters. You see, Tony Esposito snored while he slept, causing some distress for roommate Peeters. "I've never heard anybody snore like that. I didn't think anybody could make that much noise in their sleep." Peeters listened for about twenty minutes before going to the front desk of the hotel and asking for another room.
- The AHL's Philadelphia Phantoms recently donned some promotional jerseys to honour the 1976 NHL All-Star Game played at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. The Spectrum is to be destroyed, so this is a neat idea in honouring the events that happened there. Daniel Briere, in a conditioning stint, got in on the promotion as well.
- If you read the All-Star Game jersey retrospect on Friday, you know I was a fan of the jerseys worn in the 1950s and again in 1992. There's a QMJHL team who uses the front-to-back stripes on the shoulders like the NHL All-Stars did. I give you Marc Denis in his Chicoutimi Saguenéens uniform. I love the look of this jersey.
- Wednesday night saw the Toronto Maple Leafs break out a patch to little fanfare. The Leafs donned an "Ace" patch in memory of Ace Bailey. A classy move by the Leafs as they honour one of the their own, and celebrate the first "unofficial" NHL All-Star Game that happened in 1934. Well done, Toronto!
- Great story from the Boston Globe's David Rattigan about high school goaltender Trevor Leahy who has designed his own pads. While there's nothing special about designing his own pads, the design on the pads is. You see, Leahy had the pads made to look like open net so that players can't focus on his pads. I'm not sure this will fly in the NHL, but kudos to Leahy for his innovation and creativity!
- Game One of the IIHF Champions League Final between the ZSC Lions of Zurich, Switzerland and Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL in Russia takes place today. As it stands right now at the time of writing this, ZSC has a 2-0 advantage in the first period in Magnitogorsk. That's a surprising score considering how well Magnitogorsk has played this season. Lots of hockey to be played still, though. Nothing has been decided yet.
- Out with the new and in with the old in Chicago. The Blackhawks announced that they are killing off their all-black alternate jersey, and replacing it with the jersey they wore at the 2009 Winter Classic. Huge thumbs-up from this writer on this decision. As much as the black jerseys were accepted by me on the Blackhawks, I much prefer this look. A message to all the teams of the NHL: bring back the colours!
- In sticking with Uni Watch, Paul Lukas brought forth a fabulous site called Vintage Minnesota Hockey. The sweaters on the site are top-notch, and the site and company received glowing reviews in terms of their service and products. Spend a few minutes clicking through the jerseys on this site. Well worth the time.
- Lots of fabulous info on Sidney Crosby's skates this week on the Uni Watch Blog. I've seen a few people skip eyelets before, but I never really thought about it. I figured it was a comfort or superstition thing, but now we have an NHL star doing it. I wonder if there will be a trend amongst kids to skip eyelets who want to be like Crosby?
- If you can get past the good-looking woman in the picture, Chris Botta of NYI Point Blank has reported that the New York Islanders are "working with the NHL to clear their vintage mid-’70s jerseys as their primary uniform for next season" (scroll past the good-looking woman to "Jersey Boys). I don't think they need to go back to their mid-1970s jerseys, but they're much better than what they are currently wearing. That being said, maybe this is an attempt to bring back the fans who have walked away from the team?
- Kari Lehtonen of the Atlanta Thrashers is continuing his multimedia mask theme. He has worn masks featuring characters from the Kill Bill movies, characters from the Final Fantasy X video game, and images from the Transformers movie. He has been practicing in a Dark Knight-themed mask lately with Heath Ledger's Joker on the side. However, he's not the first Atlanta Thrashers' goaltender to wear a Batman-themed mask. Pasi Nurminen wore images of the cartoon Batman and The Joker on his mask in 2003-04.
- Lastly, I worked right through it, and didn't even notice until today. January 21, 2007 was the start date of my blog, so - even though I'm four days late - I have made it through two years of hockey blogging! I know that it isn't a huge date for anyone but me, but I do want to thank everyone who stops by, leaves a comments, links back to me, and reads my daily diatribes on hockey. Without you guys, there would be no Hockey Blog In Canada! Thank you!
Until then, keep your sticks on the ice!