Monday, January 30, 2012

A weekend at Eugene's

The 2012 All Star celebration has come and gone, the skills competition providing a nice showcase of those skills honed in minor hockey associations over the years, those early morning drills paying off for those selected to participate in this years celebration of hockey.

The general consensus being that Patrick Kane and John Tavares added enough spark to the skills competition to keep it entertaining with an honourable mention to Corey Perry (the Senators gift kiosk thanks you for your patronage)

Kane chose to pay homage to the Dwight Howard school of acting, donning his own personal superman cape in the shoot out competition, though we imagine that Mr. Howard may wish to contact the lawyers, cause while he was fast, Kane never did take to the air, which after all is the domain of Superman.

The Saturday evening competition was beamed across Canada on the CBC, which featured some interesting asides from the participants, though at times some script writing might have been helpful as some of our all stars are a tad reserved it seems (not all, but a good number of them).

Also, we regret that the CBC could not get a satellite hook up to the South Beach, Florida events this All Star break, we understand that Alexander Ovechkin did very well in two of the categories, that of best sun tan in a short period of time and the always popular biggest sand castle on the beach competition.  Perhaps next year, the CBC can book satellite time in advance so fans won't miss the crowded field as they do the dirty jobs of all star weekend.

The actual game, as is the case in these things, was about as riveting as a public skate at your local arena, the goaltenders seemingly the only ones that might break into a sweat and that most likely from having to wear pads.

There were no hits and obviously no fights, leaving Don Cherry with little left to do but stoke the fuel to his feud with Brian Burke, which perhaps was the most intense bit of work over the weekend.

The score of the game, oh yeah, for the record it was Team Chara 12, Team Alfie 9, and while his team came up short on the scoreboard this was a weekend of love for the Captain of the Senators, who basked in the gratitude of Ottawa's fans, perhaps the best marketing tool that Eugene Melnyk has for his team, for players looking for a new NHL home after this season, watching the affection that the Ottawa fans have for their captain should be good for a few free agent signings we would think.

Ottawa for the most part played the genial host of the weekend's festivities, the occasional snarkiness showing through for those that wear the Blue and White Maple Leaf of Toronto, but other than that occasional mis-step in the social graces, the weekend was by all accounts (with the papal blessing of Bishop Bettman) a resounding success.

However, while the Commish was saluting Ottawa's fans, one of the main villains for Ottawa fans was putting the end of the weekend into perspective, Dion Phaneuf, he of the hated Leafs best expressed for the National Post, what the all star break means for the players, beyond the relaxing weekend in the nation's capital.

“[All-star weekend is] a lot more relaxed than the day-to-day schedule of the NHL,” Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf said. “You’re not … it’s a tough word to find. When you’re playing in the regular season every day, you’re playing big games night in and night out, you look at the standings and there’s a lot of pressure to win nightly. And when you come here, it’s a fun weekend.”

“[Now] you can kind of see the finish line,” Lupul said. “You’ve got closer to 30 games left, and the games really start picking up in intensity, and it’s more meaningful.”

Indeed Mr. Phaneuf, the post all star break divide signals it's time for some serious hockey, where each and every game could be the difference between a playoff appearance and maybe just maybe a Stanley Cup, or for those that don't make the playoff cut, a chance to go see how Ovechkin's sand castles held up over the next three months.

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