Five All-Star weekend storylines to watch
This weekend, the NHL’s elite — and John Scott — take center stage in Nashville for the 2016 All Star Game and Skills Competition. From the new format, to the chaos surrounding Scott’s appearance and Patrice Bergeron’s second go around, there are plenty of storylines to watch in the Music City.
Patrice Bergeron in his second appearance
The only player to represent the Bruins at this year’s All Star Game, Bergeron is well-deserving of the honor. Where the Black and Gold would be without him is anyone’s guess, but that is a story for another time.
Entering the All-Star break as the team’s leading scorer with 44 points (19 goals, 25 assists), some have discussed Bergeron as a possible Hart Trophy candidate. While that is a bit of a stretch, it’s not crazy to think about it given his status as an elite two-way player. Either way, Bergeron, who is undoubtedly the favorite to win another Selke Trophy, is getting more well-deserved recognition with another All-Star appearance.
The legendary Jaromir Jagr captaining the Atlantic
Two weeks from Monday, the legendary Jagr will turn 44. His production for the Atlantic Division leading Panthers — 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) — is one of the primary reasons for the resurgence in South Florida.
This weekend, though, Jagr will get a break from focusing on the rigorous day-to-day operations of the regular season and embrace his entertaining side as the future Hall of Famer makes his ninth All-Star Game appearance. The 25-year veteran will captain the Atlantic Division team as they do battle with the Metropolitan Division All Stars in the first 3-on-3 period of the new format (more on that below).
The night before the game itself, the league’s best will take part in the latest version of the Skills Competition. From Corey Perry busting out a kids stick and Alex Ovechkin wearing a cowboy hat and sunglasses in the breakaway competition, to Shea Weber and Zdeno Chara breaking records in the hardest shot, to Pavel Bure flying through everyone in the fastest skater and Ray Bourque putting everyone to shame in the shooting accuracy contest, the skills competition provides a little bit of everything.
Bergeron will try to channel his inner Bourque during the accuracy shooting portion of the event. He’ll also be passing to the Eastern Conference All Stars in the one-timer event and will be featured in the second round of the Discover NHL shootout.
I doubt anyone will try to light the blade of their stick in flames like Linus Omark did at the KHL skills competition this month, but I can certainly see someone trying to use a guitar during the breakaway challenge. The only question is, who?
The new 3-on-3 format
In a sport where anything can happen, 3-on-3 hockey exemplifies unpredictability. The first year of 3-on-3 overtime has brought several entertaining moments. But 60 minutes of 3-on-3 featuring the best the league has to offer? That can only lead to chaos in a good way.
With many of these All Star games reaching double digits in total goals combined, it’s safe to say that this trend should continue in the first year of the 3-on-3 format. The Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions will do battle in the first 20 minutes followed by the Pacific-Central Division matchup in the second period. The winners of each game will battle for bragging rights in the final period.
John Scott’s first appearance
Say what you want about his play, but Scott would be the first to tell you that he doesn’t think of himself as an All Star.
Say what you want about the voting process, but voters took advantage of the system and voted Scott into the All Star Game.
Say what you want about some potential backhanded tactics by the NHL to remove Scott from the game, but he made it to Nashville.
Nearly 24 hours ago, Scott posted a revealing piece on The Players Tribune about the process of being selected as an All Star and being traded to the Montreal Canadiens during this time. He also took it a step further in revealing some conversations he had with personnel from the NHL about the process.
Regardless of the shenanigans, Scott has handled this situation like a professional. His appearance alone will be worth watching this weekend.