While the rest of us are enjoying the idea of the upcoming weekend as we dredge through another Friday, Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis are doing infinitely more fun things: making their way to Raleigh for the 2011 NHL All-Star weekend.
The festivities kick off tonight with the draft. Team captains Eric Staal and Nick Lidstrom will pick their teams tonight school-yard style, complete with a Mr. Irrelevant who will be picked last. Neither Stamkos nor St. Louis have anything to worry about in that department. St. Louis is one of the alternate captains for Team Lidstrom, meaning he will assist in the actual choosing of the teams, while Stamkos’ numbers are too good for him not to be taken early in the process. Team Staal will be coached by Joe Quenneville and Mike Haviland, while Team Lidstrom will be coached by Peter Laviolette and Alain Vigneault.
For many, (I’m sure including some of the players) this is the highlight of the weekend. It certainly has that potential as multimillionaires squirm in their seats in front of a national television audience as they await their fate. Mr. Irrelevant apparently gets a car (according to Matt Duchene), so there’s always that to ease the painful high school memories.
Once they draft teams, I supposed they’re kind of obligated to play a game. However, this may be the first year where the game is the lowlight. While it is fun to see the NHL’s best put on their talent, we all know they don’t put in a full effort for risk of injury. The draft and Skills Competition should both provide more entertainment.
The SuperSkills Competition will included Fastest Skater, the Breakaway Challenge, Accuracy Shooting, Hardest Shot, Elimination Shootout, and a Skills Challenge Relay. The Relay is a new even this year. 16 players from each team will participate, with two rookies playing for each team. It will showcase the one-timer, passing, puck control, stick handling, and accuracy shooting in four different relays.
Here is video of St. Louis at the last Breakaway Challenge in 2009.
It’s shaping up to be a fun weekend. St. Louis was made for the skills competition, and this will be Stamkos’ first All-Star game. Have a blast boys, that’s what this weekend is all about!