I know I'm supposed to be all serious and say that I hate the All-Star Game and I snooze through the Superskills...but that would be a lie. A big one.
I adore it. Every single overhyped, overdone moment of it. Can't get enough.
I love seeing if anyone can hit four targets in four shots. I love watching the YoungStars. I love the hardest shot. I love seeing which player will step up to get the MVP, expected or unexpected, of the game itself. I love hearing players mic'd up, a la Marty Turco last year.
It seems like we've gotten too cynical as hockey fans - we snark at anything bordering on frivolous entertainment, saying that it's "ruining the game" or that it's "not real hockey". But I'm not sure exactly what is wrong with taking a weekend away from the game before the real serious business of playoffs starts. I'm not sure why we decided that a showcase of skill and talent and personality is anti-hockey, something to be avoided at all costs. It is central to what hockey is and to me, there's nothing wrong with that.
Tonight we kicked off the festivities with the new, improved Superskills competition, and yes, there were some misses. The camera work for one was enough to give a fan vertigo and made it hard to follow sometimes. The obstacle course had entertainment potential but fizzled a bit. And technical difficulties abounded to kick it all off, which always puts a damper on things.
But if people were willing to just sit back and enjoy, they saw a lot to like. The three on three YoungStars game was more exciting than I thought it would be, with Backstrom getting two goals (yay Nicky!). The accuracy competition was actually a good one, with Kaberle joining the four for four club and winning the head to head with Arnott on one single shot. Lecavalier stunned everyone by shooting 101.9 in the hardest shot competition...and then Chara demolished that mark by breaking 103.
And Ovechkin? He was having more fun than anyone out there, just loving the crowd and the atmosphere and breaking out the most creative shot of any of the participants in the breakaway challenge. Twice.
It's all just...fun. The players are clearly having fun, the fans there are having fun, and the game tomorrow, while it won't be anywhere near an actual hockey game, has the potential to be fun as well. Forget the rest, leave the attitude at home, and give in to the fact that every once in a while a little frivolity is fun.