The 2016 NHL All-Star weekend is in the books, and there were plenty of highlights from Nashville:
- The skills competition on Saturday saw Detroit’s Dylan Larkin, the first Red Wing rookie all-star since Steve Yzerman, break the full-rink speed skating record, which Mike Gartner had held for twenty years. Nashville’s Shea Weber, no fan of Larkin’s team, blew the competition out of the water to repeat as the winner of the hardest shot competition, although his 108.1 MPH blast was .7 MPH off of Zdeno Chara’s record.
- Saturday also featured the Breakaway Challenge, a fast-break event executed more in the style of the NBA’s slam-dunk contest, but mostly goofier:
- With Nashville as the host city, you knew there’d be plenty of live music, and there was. Viewers also were treated to bumps at the commercial breaks from various lower-Broad honky tonks, which was neat. We’d like to offer a special shout-out to the tambourine player who just had to keep that text conversation rolling:
- The revamped all-star game was on Sunday evening, and the new format was a massive improvement. The all-stars from the two Eastern Conference divisions first faced off in a twenty-minute three-on-three game, the Western Conference then did the same, and the two winning squads met in a third twenty-minute game for the $1 million prize. Larkin again shone, assisting three of the Atlantic Division’s four goals in the first round, enough for that team, which included Jaromir Jagr and P.K. Subban, to advance to the final round, where they met John Scott’s Pacific Division team. Scott netted two goals in the semifinal round, and he was named the game MVP after his team won the much more tightly contested (1-0) final round.
- For all of its fun and exciting moments, the 2016 All-Star Game always will be known as the John Scott all-star game, and the whole thing couldn’t have played out in more fitting style in that respect. The hockey internet is virtually papered with Scott content today (his Players’ Tribune piece is worth a read, for starters), and I don’t feel a special need to add to that at great length. Scott belonged, he proved he belonged, and he’s rightly crowned as the people’s champion.
- I write that “Scott belonged” because he won a fan vote, and fans having a say in all-star game participants generally is a good idea. Scott’s play so vindicated the fans’ decision that even the NHL, which initially tried to dissuade him from attending the all-star festivities, eventually acknowledged that Scott’s presence was “no mistake.” But is there a statistical case that Scott belonged in the game as well? The answer isn’t “no.” While Scott only played in eleven NHL games this season, all for Arizona, hockey’s new, possession-driven statistics reveal that he was very valuable to his team during those games. In fact, Scott led his team in Relative Corsi For % before the Coyotes traded him in the leadup to the All-Star Game. By this measure, no other all-star was as valuable to his team this season as Scott was to Arizona this year (data from Hockey-Reference):
Sure, Scott also stands out for his low number of games played, and this measure is relative to a player’s own team, but this isn’t nothing. And looking at the 2016 all-stars individually (and removing games played as a factor), Scott still fits in:
- Finally, in case you didn’t hear, all of the all-stars received a very nice collection of Nashville-themed goodies, including a custom Gibson guitar. Not too bad.
Here’s hoping the new all-star game format is here to stay in the NHL.