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FTB: All-Star Saturday

Auston Matthews and Jack Campbell represent the Maple Leafs today in Las Vegas.

2022 NHL All-Star Skills Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images

We’re through the first half of the NHL All-Star Weekend with last night’s skills competition completed and... wait did someone actually “win” it? I don’t know how that works.

I’ve always thought these events are probably more fun to see in person than how they come across on TV. I say probably, as the only similar event I’ve been at was a Maple Leafs skills competition way back in, I think 2010—I remember Dion Phaneuf was in it though not much more—but I can see how producing a television show for such an event would be very difficult. It’s so chaotic in the arena, you can’t really rehearse it in advance, and there’s many unscripted moments that you want to capture.

Overall, it wasn’t bad once it got going, but the first 20 minutes waiting for something to happen were painful. Perhaps they should start coverage only after the player introductions, which took forever. Anyone who is a sufficiently die hard NHL fan to watch this knows who all these players are. After all, they are “All-Stars”, right? And in case you didn’t know some of them, they re-announced all the participating players before each event anyway. Even Connor McDavid was bored at that point.

This time they had the idea of some outdoor events which were not at all subtly based around promoting the Bellagio Hotel and Las Vegas tourism. I was actually kind of disappointed by these simply given the buildup around them, even though I liked the concepts of the events, especially the Black Jack shooting competition, though it seemed like such a dead atmosphere around it from watching on TV. They made such a huge deal about the fact that they were doing this competition literally on The Strip (aka Las Vegas Blvd.), but from watching at home it could have been in a parking lot by the airport. There was no atmosphere around it coming through.

It would have been nice to have cameras showing people watching from the sidewalk—if they even could, though that would invite some of those unscripted moments which the NHL would definitely not want in their very carefully managed event. That being said, we did get one of those moments from Stamkos being all pissy about how cold it was—a chilly 10°C last evening in Vegas—which is always fun to hear from someone who literally plays on a surface that must be frozen at all times.

In any case, Gary Bettman upstaged the whole show with his “State of the NHL” press conference in the afternoon where he explained the NHL was Very Upset with Canada and its continuing restrictions on fans attending games, which he followed up with threats to move the NHL Draft out of Montreal to somewhere else in June, guaranteeing that would be all the media coverage of the night in Canada even though that’s probably not going to happen as Bill Daly let it slip they would just have a virtual draft again, much to Bettman’s chagrin,


This afternoon we get the actual All-Star Game. It’s on at 3:00 p.m. ET like last night it’s on ESPN, Sportsnet, and TVA Sports. The fun part will be seeing which players re yawing, not from boredom, but because they literally stayed up partying all night.