(Montreal, QC.) What??? No Ovechkin at the All Star game weekend in Ottawa? How will the skills competition survive? Certainly the youth of the league don’t have what it takes to be as entertaining as the “Great Eight”.
I have to admit, I was pretty convinced of that myself. In years gone by, it was a highlight of the skills competition to anticipate what the Russian star was going to pull out of his hat, or better yet – to see what hat he mustered the gumption to wear. He became a one man show not only for his skill-set in the Breakaway Challenge, but for the zany antics and crazy outfits that he’d wear.
In his absence, it came down to the Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane in his Clark Kent / Superman outfit, and Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks, sporting a goalie mini-stick, to fill the void. To be honest, they did a stand up job, but the man that really stole the show was the Montreal Canadiens Carey Price.
Wired for sound in the blue paint, fans and media alike got to see a rare side to the young goaltender. Although he’s become known for his calm and ice like presence between the pipes, he doesn’t often get the opportunity to showcase his lighthearted jovial side. And on Saturday night, the British Columbia native took advantage to the fullest extent.
If you haven’t seen the video of his performance, sit back and enjoy all eighteen minutes of video below. If you don’t have time right now – bookmark it! Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
I’ve watched Price get the call in the last three All Star weekend events. I’ve seen him do the same there as he’s done in the league over the past three seasons. He’s lost the immaturity and gone from a cocky new NHL’er to a solid, well rounded, mature, professional hockey player.
Despite his jocular ways, exchanging barbs with the colour commentators, Price more than once emphasized just how difficult it must be for the shooters to come out and put on a perfect show. You have to give him credit, because many a fan must have been feeling the pain of the event, just as I was.
But in an event that seemed to miss most of the sizzle from previous years, the Habs net-minder pulled out the stops doing everything in his power to improve the show. In an event that usually places the spotlight on the shooters, Montreal’s Number Thirty-One managed to save the lackluster performance by stepping up his own game. In my humble opinion, Price was the real winner of that challenge.
There’s another thing that stands out from the past weekend regarding Carey Price and his call to yet another All Star event. I can thank my boss for this observation as we talked it over today while sipping our morning java.
When you look at the six men asked to guard the nets this past weekend, something should stand out to the rabid fans of le Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge. There’s no surprise that Lundqvist and Thomas got the nod. Howard and Quick also earned their spot with solid performances this season. But for some reason, the St Louis Blue that got the invitation was Brian Elliott – not Jaroslav Halak.
If anyone still has doubt as to who the Canadiens should have kept, and who they should have dealt … well that’s a pretty strong message. Not that I’m throwing dirt at Halak. God knows I was one of the ones that was disturbed by the trade initially. But I ate crow last year and gave Price the rightful praise that he was due, and he continues to show why he was the right call by the franchise.
I’m not a big fan of the All Star weekend for the most part, but tuning in this year gave me something far more exciting and entertaining than seeing how accurate a players shot is, how fast a certain player can skate, or who can break the 100mph mark on a slap-shot.
I learned something far more valuable. Just how deep the skills run in the man that champions our Habs. That it’s not just pure raw hockey skills that we gain with his contract, but the skills of a superbly rounded individual.