Welcome to the latest installment of Rocket's Red Glare, where Commenter Rocket attempts (and sometimes succeeds) to talk about an NHL topic in fewer than 2,000 words. Rocket?


As you might remember from last week’s post, I had the rare opportunity to actually attend the NHL’s Skills Competition and All-Star Game. I wanted to share some insights about the experience with you and, as any true hockey fan knows, the best way to do that would have been through interpretive dance. Unfortunately, the head oligarch of this blog claims that I would have to go through many complicated steps, including digitally filming the performance and “uploading” it – whatever the [redacted] that means – regardless of the many hours I have already been choreographing and practicing. Whatever you say, Comrade RanBball. I guess I’ll just use the paltry English language to fumble my way through some stray observations instead of truly sharing the experience with everybody through movement, art, and soul.

 *Fantasy Draft*
-- This thing was a silly, awkward, overlong mess. I can’t wait for it to happen next year. There are some issues that need to be ironed out, but once everybody gets the hang of it I imagine this might be the most fun event of the entire weekend.
-- First overall pick Cam Ward tried to start the evening on the right foot. He’s a good (and underrated) goalie who’s having a very good season, but he clearly was picked first because he is a teammate of Eric Staal, one of the all-star captains. Recognizing the moment for what it was, when asked about being , “I was the best player available, I guess.” This event will grow and succeed if it is able to generate this sort of personality and humor.
-- Speaking of which, another favorite moment was when New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal was interviewed about seven or eight rounds into the event and – obviously jokingly – called his brother and team captain Eric Staal, “classless,” for not selecting him. Then, immediately, Eric Stall engaged in the “classless” move of picking, “from the New York Rangers … (pregnant pause) … Henrik Lundqvist.” Hilarious.
-- Former Gopher Phil Kessel – whose past afflictions may someday draw the ire of Kevin Garnett -- was the last player selected. This was to the great delight of Alex Ovechkin.
*Skills Competition*
-- The home market is in love with Jeff Skinner. Seriously. It’s possible that he is the most popular athlete in North Carolina right now. He seems like a good kid and he is the youngest ever all-star in any sport, but the love for this kid is almost frightening. He gets the biggest ovations at the games, he gets treated like a rock star, even the mere mention of his name seems to bring smiles to the faces of young and old alike. So when PK Subban swapped jerseys with North Carolina’s version of Joe Mauer, the roof nearly blew off of the place.
-- Alex Ovechkin was made for this kind of event. At the risk of ruining it by co-opting loaded terminology, he looks like he’s having fun out there when this happens and he does this.
-- Corey Perry won the shootout competition and should have won the breakaway challenge.
*All-Star Game*
-- Obviously, these games have lost a bit of their luster. However, tension slowly built all the way through until the end was actually exciting. The partisan crowd was disappointed with Team Staal’s loss, but it was a thrilling ending to a close game.
-- I wore my replica ’72 Soviet Union Jersey and I talked my wife, Rockette, into wearing my replica ’80 USA jersey. While only one person in the crowd seemed to get it I still enjoyed the symbolic juxtaposition. Rockette was more tolerant than amused. Her observation on the jersey choices: “You have to be pretty nerdy to get this. (/Adopting a deep-throated, slightly nasal “dumb guy” voice/) Do you get our joke about the Cold War?”
*Final Thoughts*
-- Everybody knows that hockey is better live than on TV. So it is with the All-Star weekend. Nonetheless, this was fun and I am intrigued by its future. I can’t promise that I’ll watch every minute of next year’s game in Ottawa, but I’ll be curious to see the fantasy draft again and I can foresee tuning into much more coverage than I had in the past.
-- This person had the sign of the event:
Rest assured that the partially obscured sign does, in fact, welcome everybody except for those who hail from “Barfalo.” It is now clear that we need a better nickname for Wisconsin, people.
-- Is there a challenger to the State of Hockey? (Probably not, but give the folks their due).
-- It doesn’t matter how much one whines about them, all-star games aren’t going away. So either ignore them or consider another perspective.
-- This can probably disappear without further mention, though.

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