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Brianna Decker Passed the Test but the NHL Failed

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The NHL only partly included four women hockey players in the All-Star Skills competition, and paid the wrong person $25,000.

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 13
Kendall Coyne and Brianna Decker after they beat Canada to take the gold medal at the Olympics.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

At the NHL All-Star Skills Competition last night, the NHL repeated a trick from last year where they partially included four women hockey players in the event.

The four, Canada’s Rebecca Johnston and Renata Fast, and the USA duo of Kendall Coyne Schofield and Brianna Decker, were originally meant to “demonstrate” the skills event. That is, they go out and do the exact same thing the NHL players are about to do in the exact same way, with a clock running, but it doesn’t count.

Who cares? Well, the winner of these skills events gets a cheque for $25,000.

Everyone is buzzing today because in a clever PR move that has a whiff of the genuine about it, the Avs and Nathan MacKinnon recruited Kendall Coyne Schofield to take MacKinnon’s spot in the “try to beat McDavid” fastest skater competition.

Coyne Schofield didn’t beat McDavid (spoiler: no one did) but she did beat Clayton Keller. She didn’t “demonstrate”, she just did, and everyone is buzzing! It’s a no-fear performance, and it shows just how much USA Hockey gets out of the hard work of their stars.

CORRECTION: This post originally incorrectly stated that Coyne Schofield beat Nathan MacKinnon’s time from 2018. We regret the error.

The Skills Competition broadcast chugged on after that highlight, and then the deadliest of dull events sucked the life out of the broadcast. Some evil person invented a passing competition, debuted last year, that is so hard, it leaves many of the players visibly angry and frustrated, and it’s the most boring thing to watch since your team had to kill a five-minute major at the start of the third period.

Sebastian Aho came out and showed the world what we already knew (Finns can pass) and then Leon Draisaitl showed us that some other guys can do it too, and he bested Aho’s time. In between, some really good hockey players looked like fools who can’t play.

Draisaitl gets the cheque.

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There’s just one problem. Not broadcast was the “demonstration” of this trick passing trial by irritation, and Leon Draisaitl did not have the fastest time. Brianna Decker did.

So here’s your chance, NHL, to unfuckup your fuckup.

First, just invite these pros to participate next time. If the KHL can manage that, you can too. Leave the “demonstration” to someone else.

Second, cut a couple of cheques. One to Decker herself and one to USA Hockey to say thanks for creating such a great pro player you’re barely worthy to have on your ice.

I know the NHL already funds USA Hockey in meaningful ways. This is a symbol. It’s a symbol about equality of opportunity and of experience, and a chance for the NHL to realize how stupid it is to give that cash to the guy soaked in money and not the woman who earned it.

If you win it, baby, you should get paid.

Updated to add that someone knows a PR opportunity when they see it, even if the NHL doesn’t:

As per the CBC broadcast Saturday night, the league is convinced that Decker’s time was approximately 1:12, which is well within the times of many of the men who participated, but isn’t a winning time. The dispute over time seems to stem from when they started the clock. The statement was made by Elliotte Friedman that he “thinks” if she’d beaten Draisaitl, the league might have paid her.

So again, we’re right back to this:

First, just invite these pros to participate next time. If the KHL can manage that, you can too. Leave the “demonstration” to someone else.

No one’s interests are served by pretending that the women invited are less capable than the men. There is no need to have them be the demonstration models, they can just participate. Do that, and this never needs to be an issue. But if they win, there is no “might” on the getting paid part.

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