Friday, January 25, 2008

All-Star Weekend Ahoy!

So the All-Star break is upon us. I'll be honest, I'm not a big fan of the All-Star Game. No defense, no hitting, and no real emotion? No thanks. I keep hearing about how great it is to see guys having fun but I'm not convinced most of them even want to be there. And despite the tweaking this year, you couldn't pay me good money to watch the Young Stars Game again. That was painful. I've seen more entertaining games in my gym class with my kids. But I am a total sucker for the skills competitions. In fact, let's call this...

Why I Love Hockey #35 - The All-Star Skills Competition

I've mentioned many, many times that I grew up in hockey no man's land (a.k.a. Birmingham, AL). Hockey was occasionally on TV but not enough that I ever really got hooked on a particular team. However I have very clear memories of watching the skills competitions. Before I knew anything about hockey, I knew that Ray Bourque had a scarily accurate shot. I knew Pavel Bure was really, really fast. Even before I was really a hockey fan, I was amazed at how much skill and athleticism the players involved in the various competitions had. I'd never been ice-skating in my life. Watching guys fly around the ice, legs pumping, jerseys flapping behind them, like it was the most natural thing in the world took my breath away. Watching people wind up and hit little tiny targets with a little tiny puck fascinated me. I was a pretty athletic kid and I just couldn't wrap my brain around some of the stuff I was seeing. And I feel the same way now. I don't know, I might be even more impressed now that I actually follow hockey. Watching game after game after game I think it's easy for fans to forget what exactly the guys are doing over and over through the course of a season. They're incredible athletes using a crazy variety of skills - strength, speed, balance, hand-eye coordination, hand-foot coordination, quick, soft hands - and they're doing it all ON ICE SKATES. That will never not amaze me. I think it's pretty cool for a bunch of NHLers to have the chance to get together and show off once a year. I also think this is where you really see the fun. You see the guys cracking up and laughing at and with each other. You see players who aren't on the same team during the season chat and hang out. It's really cool. I think it's the real celebration of how awesome these guys really are.

Listen, I'll unashamedly admit that I'm posting the video below for free swag from Versus - hey, it's a magnetic playoff tracker and a PUCK SHAPED ICE CUBE TRAY! That's awesome. But I would've written the above anyway because the skills competition is sweet. (Watch it on Versus, Saturday 1/26 at 7 p.m. Eastern!) And actually you know what? Despite what I said about the All-Star Game, it was probably worth it for mic'd up Marty Turco who was totally hilarious. So maybe you should watch that too after all.

Mic'd Up Marty Turco:


Brian s said...

"and they're doing it all ON ICE SKATES" - This is my main argument when anyone asks me why I like hockey. 20 years of following the sport and it still amazes me.

And Marty was a riot last year. It is the one thing, other than Briere winning the MVP, that I actually remember from that game.

"All I got to do is let one more in and I get the win." - Absolutely priceless.

Sam said...

I like the all-star game, but the skills competition is even better. The first hockey I watched on TV was the 1994 All-Star old timers game then the All-star game after. That was the start.. then Bure and the Canucks in the playoffs did the rest and I was hoooked for life.

I do enjoy how the guys seem to loosen up a bit during the all-star game. it's fun to see them displaying their mad skillz and joking around and having fun. Now if the game itself were a little more competitive, that would be better but eh.. it's still fun.

yay hockey!

Oh and MTV used to do this fun All-Star thing, they did it for at least 2 years, where they do a lot of random interviews with the players and bring in celebrities too but it was really neat to watch. They'd ask silly questions like what's the best part about being a hockey player (there were some hilarious answers) and dig up random facts. I don't think they've done it since.. 99 or so but if you can get your hands on any of that stuff, it was fairly amusing.

RJ said...

I didn't get the offer for free schwag, but if it's a playoff tracker like the one I bought last year you will love it.

Seriously, by the end of February I had everyone's place in the standings memorized 1-12, plus it keeps track of divisions for during the year. Well worth the $40 bucks.

Also, Turco's miked up was the best part of the ASG last year for sure. The line Brian S. quoted was classic...