By Mary Walsh
Team Black won the Skills Competition, Team White won an All Star Game marked by more goals than ever and two plus hat tricks. Ryan Johansen was the MVP, Alex Ovechkin got a car (but not the one he asked for), the first ever All Star Draft trade took place. It was a busy weekend in Columbus Ohio.
The NHL opened the 2015 All Star Weekend in Columbus by announcing that a World Cup of Hockey will take place in September of 2016. Last held in 2004, the 2016 tournament will include teams from Canada, the USA, Russia, the Czech Republic, Finland and Sweden. In addition, two All Star teams will be assembled of players from countries not represented in that group. Future tournaments may be expanded to include qualification rounds to determine which countries will participate. The tournament is expected to last about two weeks and will start on September 17, 2016 at Air Canada Center in Toronto.
The NHL also announced that the 2016 Winter Classic will be held at the Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, with the Boston Bruins hosting the Montreal Canadiens. Two more outdoor games are scheduled for 2016. The first will be between the Minnesota Wild and the Chicago Blackhawks, on February 21 at TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. On February 27, the Colorado Avalanche will host the Detroit Red Wings at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado.
On Friday, January 23, the All Stars gathered to draft their teams in Columbus Ohio. Alex Ovechkin said that he wanted to be chosen last, because he needed the car. He made this point repeatedly, with hand-written signs held up to the camera and in statements during interviews. His motives could have been guessed at but he kept the secret well enough that his fellow All Stars did not take the hint, and picked him third to last. It was eventually revealed that he wanted to give the car to a program called Nova Cool Cats Special Hockey. Learning this, Honda decided to help him out. Read all about that here.
Team Black captain: Nick Foligno. Alternates: Patrick Kane and Drew Doughty. Coach: Darryl Sutter.
Team Foligno, with the first overall pick, chose the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Ryan Johansen. It was a wise choice. Johansen went on to win the Breakaway Challenge and the MVP award.
The rest of the team was drafted as follows: 3rd: Duncan Keith (CHI), 5th: Anze Kopitar (LAK), 7th: Steven Stamkos (TBL), 9th: Tyler Seguin (DAL), 11th: Carey Price (MTL), 13th: Claude Giroux (PHI), 15th: Dustin Byfuglien (WPG), 16th: Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT), 17th: Brian Elliott (STL) (replacement for injured Sergei Bobrovsky), 19th: Brent Burns (SJS) (“The second best 88 in the league” per Patrick Kane), 21st: Kevin Shattenkirk (STL), 23rd: Bobby Ryan (OTT), 25th: Radim Vrbata (VAN), 27th: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (ARI), 29th: Zemgus Girgensons (BUF), 31st: Alex Ovechkin (WSH), 34th: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (EDM).
Team White captain: Jonathan Toews. Alternates: Ryan Getzlaf and Rick Nash. Coach: Peter Laviolette.
Team Toews drafted Phil Kessel (TOR) first. Commenting on their choice, Jonathan Toews made reference to Kessel being the last All Star drafted in 2011:
We know that Phil had a tough one a couple of years ago, I think he deserved to be at the top end of the draft this year. And I think, the three of us were just talking, that he’s one of the most coachable players out there so we’re happy to have him on our team.
About half way through the draft, Team Toews traded Kessel for Tyler Seguin. Asked if he saw the trade coming, Seguin said: “You never expect it, you never expect to get traded. It’s tough to swallow right now but I’m really excited. A big opportunity over there with White, so it’ll be fun.”
The rest of Team Toews was drafted as follows: 4th: Shea Weber (NSH), 6th: Jake Voracek (PHI), 8th: Corey Crawford CHI), 10th: John Tavares (NYI), 12th: Roberto Luongo (FLA), 14th: Brent Seabrook (CHI), 16th: Vladimir Tarasenko (STL), 18th: Patrice Bergeron (BOS), 20th: Jaroslav Halak (NYI), 22nd: Aaron Ekblad (FLA). 24th: Patrick Elias (NJD), 26th: Ryan Suter (MIN), 28th: Marc Giordano (CGY), 30th: Justin Faulk (CAR), 32nd: Tyler Johnson (TBL), 34th: Filip Forsberg (NSH)
In a little rule change, both of the last two picks (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Filip Forsberg) received Honda Accords.
On Saturday, the Skills Competition was won by Team Foligno 25-19. Both Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson and Colorado’s Erik Johnson were unable to play due to injury. It appears that Johnson was an unlucky name for All Stars in 2015.
The winner of the NHL Breakaway Challenge, as chosen by fan vote, was Ryan Johansen. Johansen left the puck in the slot, skated back to the bench and brought one of the training staff’s sons out with him to take the shot. A few rounds later, Jakub Voracek did the same thing, but brought out Johnny Gaudreau out instead of a child.
In the accuracy competition, the home team’s Patrick Kane had the fastest time overall.
The highlight of the Skills Relay was Ryan Getzlaf’s turn in the mini-net passing drill. He hit the four targets in five tries. The extra try was a second shot at a net he had already hit.
In the hardest shot competition, Shea Weber’s second shot (his first missed the net) won with 108.5 mph. That is just behind Zdeno Chara’s standing record of 108.8. Ovechkin came in second with 101.4. Brent Burns, shooting against Florida rookie Aaron Ekblad, lost his heat with a 93.3 mph shot. Ekblad’s shot was clocked at 95.3 mph.
In the shootout, Team Foligno won with 25 goals to Team Toews’ 19. Brent Burns scored once and missed once.
The All Star Game itself took place on Sunday. The final score was 17-12 Team Toews. The game set an All Star record with 29 goals scored. During the second period, a new All Star record was set with 11 goals. For every shot on goal, the NHL gave 200 dollars to the Ronald MacDonald House Charities. 92 shots produced a donation of $18,400.
The MVP award went to Ryan Johansen. The prize was a Honda Accord.
The forward lines for Team Toews were Nash-Toews-Vorcek, Tarasenko-Getzlaf-Seguin, Elias-Bergeron-Tavares, Gaudreau-Forsberg. (Tyler Johnson was out with a lower body injury.)
The defense pairs for Team Toews were: Suter-Weber, Faulk-Ekblad, Giordano-Seabrook.
For Team Foligno, the forward lines were Nugent Hopkins-Girgensons-Vrbata, Foligno-Johansen-Ovechkin, Ryan-Kopitar-Stamkos, Kane-Giroux-Kessel.
Team Foligno’s defense pairs were Keith-Doughty, Burns-Shattenkirk, Ekman Larsson-Byfuglien.
Jakub Voracek, Ryan Johansen, Rick Nash, Tyler Seguin, Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos, Filip Forsberg and John Tavares all had multi-goal games. Tavares was the first to get a hat trick, and he went on to tie the All Star record with four goals. Voracek also had a hat trick.
The Sharks’ Brent Burns had a goal and an assist for Team Foligno.
Roberto Luongo played the first period for Team Toews, Corey Crawford played the second, and Jaroslav Halak played the third. Corey Crawford led Team Toews in saves with 14 on 18 shots.
Carey Price played the first period for Team Foligno, Marc-Andre Fleury played the second, and Brian Elliot played the third. Carey Price led Team Foligno in saves with 12 on 16 shots.
Four players on Team Toews were tied for the team lead in assists with four each: Aaron Ekblad, Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron and Vladimir Tarasenko.
Alex Ovechkin led Team Foligno in assists with three.
Entertainment notes: Locksley played The Whip (aka the CBJ goal song) in the pregame show. Fall Out Boy performed during the first intermission, beginning with Light Em Up. The second intermission featured O.A.R. performing Love and Memories and Two Hands Up.