The 2017 Honda NHL All Star Weekend is upon us! This year, the Los Angeles Kings play host to the star-studded weekend. The festivities kick off Friday Evening when the NHL reveals the remaining 67 of the greatest 100 NHL players of all time as part of The NHL 100 event, airing on NBCSN at 9:30pm EST.
On Saturday afternoon, “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky and “Super Mario” Lemieux will coach separate teams consisting of various hockey-playing celebrities at the NHL All-Star Celebrity Shootout. The event will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles at 5:15pm EST. More than a dozen celebrities will compete for charity including actors Taylor Kitsch, Tim Robbins, David Boreanaz and musician Ross Lynch. The remaining rosters will be announced at The NHL 100 event Friday evening. Robin Thicke, Alyssa Milano and Retta, and Hockey Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine will serve as assistant coaches. Carter Thicke, son of the late-Alan Thicke, and half-brother to Robin, will skate in the game as well. Both teams will honor Alan with a special patch on their jerseys. Alan Thicke passed away from a heart attack on December 13, 2016 while playing hockey with Carter, 19-years old.
The 2017 NHL All-Star Celebrity Shootout will benefit Echoes of Hope, a nonprofit organization founded by Luc and Stacia Robitaille. Echoes of Hope strives to inspire hope in the lives of at-risk and emancipated foster youth. The organization assists youth in their pursuit of independence, empowerment and a post-secondary education. Luc Robitaille currently serves as the President of Business Operations for the Los Angeles Kings.
Following the celebrity tilt, at 7:00pm EST, the NHL All-Stars will take the ice for the 2017 Coors Light NHL All-Star Skills Competition. There, the players will compete in various competitions, highlighting particular skills, and showcasing the best talents from around the NHL. The event will be broadcast on NBCSN.
The 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game will take place on Sunday, January 29 at 3:30pm EST on NBC. The All-Star Game will feature the same three-on-three format that began last year, as the four divisions will compete in a round-robin tournament.
The All-Star Weekend has taken upon the Hollywood theme as the events of the weekend take place in Los Angeles. Already, we are seeing some fun things leading up to the weekend, such as various NHL players being featured on parody movie posters. Ironically, despite being so close to the film industry’s headquarters, this years’ All-Star Weekend lacks the same feel-good movie-plot feel that last year’s game had with 2016 All-Star Game MVP John Scott.
Similarly, PK Subban won’t be acting as anyone this year in LA as the shootout competition has been removed from the Skills Competition this year. Instead, a new event will take place that will feature players shooting from each line on the ice at the goal. Goalies will get to take part of the action, attempting to do what so few have done before – score a goal from the crease. While this sounds like a ton of fun, it would have been nice to see the shootout competition again, given how successful the event has become in the KHL.
In a previous article, I listed the divisions’ rosters for the All-Star Weekend. Leading up to the event, however, some personnel changes have taken place. Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins will not appear in Los Angeles this weekend. Malkin, who is second on the Pens with 54 points behind only Sidney Crosby, suffered a lower-body injury and did not skate in Thursday’s 4-3 loss to the Boston Bruins. Cam Atkinson of the Columbus Blue Jackets will take his place. Atkinson has 46 points in 47 games, good enough to lead his squad in points.
Speaking of the Blue Jackets, Head Coach John Tortorella will not participate in the weekend’s festivities due to a personal family issue. Currently, there is no word on who will replace the Jackets’ Head Coach for the All-Star weekend. “Torts” missed Thursday night’s 4-3 against the Nashville Predators. He hopes to rejoin the team next week when the Blue Jackets (32-12-4) face the New York Rangers (31-17-1) on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. The Blue Jackets currently sit at second place in the Metropolitan Division while the Rangers are hanging on to the first wild card spot.
After missing a few games due to injury, PK Subban of the Nashville Predators and Patrik Laine, rookie phenom for the Winnipeg Jets, have recovered and will compete in the weekend’s festivities. Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Edmonton Oilers’ Captain, Connor McDavid, are the only other rookies that will play in the All-Star Game.
Despite firing Jack Capuano as Head Coach last week, the New York Islanders head into the All-Star break with a six-game point streak, missing out on only one of twelve possible points in that stretch. The Philadelphia Flyers head into the break on a three-game winning streak. The New Jersey Devils currently sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with 49 points in 50 games played. However, they are only seven points out of the second wild card spot currently held by the Flyers. Regardless, the All-Stars from Metropolitan Division, arguably the toughest division in the NHL, will have to come together to defeat the other three divisions for bragging rights.
As I already mentioned in a previous article (January 11), the annual classic always has its fair share of snubs. But with this new three-on-three format, the rosters are inherently smaller, giving way to more snubs. Fans of teams might be secretly thrilled that their players get to take more time off and rest up before the final stretch of the regular season. I can’t necessarily disagree with that viewpoint. Nevertheless, it should still be a fun-filled weekend, full of enough laughs and entertainment for the fans, players, and all those involved to enjoy.
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