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What we learned from the Skills Competition: Never do that again

Because anytime you think about skills competitions you think about a goalie race. (AP)

As the NHL All-Star Skills Competition dragged on, I lamented the fact that whoever organized the event took what used to be one of the best nights of the year and made it the most painful thing of to watch in all of All-Star weekend.

It used to be the four fastest guys tried to skate as fast as they could. The four most accurate guys tried to go 4-for-4.

Instead we had sharp turns that slowed skaters down, eliminating all chances for a wipe out from the guy who is trying a little bit too hard and can’t control the centrifugal force when he’s flying around the net. We had time clocks in the accuracy shooting contest that a.) made it impossible to see who was winning because there’s the differences were less than a second and there no graphic on the screen that told us the best time anyway and b.) removed the most suspenseful part of the night, when a player is 3-for-3, waits to pick out his spot, and then buries the shot in the top corner.

And thank tiny, five pound, eight-ounce baby Jesus, for Carey Ward or the breakaway challenge would have been literally unwatchable. The thing with the breakaway challenge is —

I need to stop. If I’m not careful this is going to turn into a 4,000 word manifesto on how to fix the Skills Competition.

Let’s just chalk this up to a mistake. And what’s the number one thing you need to do from mistakes? Learn from them. Here’s what I learned:

The word may be out on Pavel Datsyuk’s shootout move: It might have been a complete guess, but any time Jeremy Roenick can predict what you’re going to do, it’s a bad sign. Unless, of course, Roenick is a fan of the blog. In that case he’s a great guy who obviously read my Shootout Book post on Pavel Datsyuk and just has excellent reading retention.

As I pointed out in my post Datysuk loves going to backhand and then pulling it back to the forehand. Roenick predicted the move for Datsyuk in the elimination shootout at the end. That’s what Datsyuk did. He was easily stopped by Henrik Lundqvist, who also obviously knew what was coming.

As Datsyuk went to the backhand, Lundqvist basically gave him the whole side of the net and just stood at Datysuk’s forehand side, making for the embarrassing situation when the deke ended in hitting Lundqvist on the left side of his body, even though the shot was to the right side of the net.

Lundqvist has no reason to know what Datsyuk’s move is. They play once a year. Either Henrik is also a fan of the blog, or somebody in the know told him what was going to happen. Either way, the word is out. Datsyuk needs a new move.

On the other hand, Datsyuk is good at making sharp turns: In the sometimes poorly named “skills” relay (depending on the event) Datysuk’s job was to do turns around a cone, do a spin and turn around cones the other way. It really showed off the skills that every single player in the history of existence masters by the time they are squirts.

Watching Jimmy Howard skate isn’t enjoyable. Usually, in the Skills Competition you see players show off their extraordinary skill in the name of entertainment. Instead, we got Jimmy Howard and Jonathon Quick competing in the fastest skater competition. Howard lost, but there were no winners here.

It was like being forced to watch Ben Wallace and Shawn Bradley to go head to head in a three-point competition. The simultaneously most exciting and worst thing that could happen in either situation would be one of them pulling a hamstring. Saturday, both Howard and Quick rightfully mailed it in. There was no upside to skating hard. But from a tv standpoint, that made the event more excruciating.

Remember these three lessons.

Hopefully that will make you forget about the fact that you wasted a half hour hearing names called and another hour watching events that made you question how your life got to this point.

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