By Steven Marowski
The Columbus Blue Jackets hosted the 2014-2015 NHL All-Star game on Sunday, Jan. 25. The best players from each of the 30 NHL teams were chosen to represent their respective teams, including superstars such as Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos and Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price. The festivities of the all-star weekend included the NHL All-Star Team Draft, the NHL Skills Competition and, of course, the NHL All-Star Game.
Instead of having each player represent their respective league, like other all-star games do, the two captains that were selected held a draft where they picked the players they wanted on their teams. This year, Toews and Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno were chosen as captains by the NHL Hockey Operations committee with consultation from players around the league.
The draft was held on Friday, Jan. 23. It is almost like a pickup hockey game — the captains will select, at random, any player they choose that they feel will help them win the game. Foligno selected fellow Blue Jacket line-mate Ryan Johansen with his first pick because, “we really enjoy playing together” (NHL.com).
While there is a lot to look forward to in the all-star game itself, the events prior to the all-star game provide just as much entertainment. The day before the all-star game is when the NHL Skills Competition takes place every year. In six events, the captain of each team selected the players that they thought had the best chances of winning each competition.
Competitions included the Bridgestone NHL’s Fastest Skater, Amp NHL Hardest Shot, and the Discover Breakaway Challenge. Overall, Team Foligno won the 2015 NHL Skills Competition 25-19.
The all-star game this year was much the same as last year, but also had its differences. One of the major changes, that received both positive and negative criticism, was the untraditional jerseys that the players wore this year. Instead of red and blue to represent the different leagues, they were distinguished by black and white with neon green highlights around the arms and necks.
While goalies struggled in this year’s all-star game, scorers and rookies alike shone on Sunday night; it was the highest scoring all star game that has ever been played, with 29 goals scored collectively. Of course, in the all-star game, it is rare to see any penalties or checking that goes on, and this game was no different. There were no penalty minutes awarded to either team, and it seemed as though everyone was out on the ice like they were playing a pickup game of pond hockey.
At the end of the game, Team Toews beat Team Foligno 17-12. Johansen was named the all-star game MVP, which is great, being that he plays for the hometown Blue Jackets. New York Islanders forward John Tavares became the sixth player to score four goals in one all-star game, joining the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, who did the same.
Photo via NHL.com.