The National Hockey League (NHL) decided to cut the nonsense and let the women play this year.
St. Louis, MO is the home of the 2020 NHL All Star Weekend where they will hold skills competitions and an inter-division 3-on-3 tournament awarding prize money to all winners for the competition and tourney team winners. This year, the event will be air on Jan. 24-25 on NBC and will have a new skills competition event that has yet to be announced. The big news is that the NHL’s main goal is to get the women’s national hockey teams of the USA and Canada to take their rivalry to the 3-on-3 format. They’ll play their game somewhere in-between the men’s all-star games. The game between the two countries has not been confirmed yet.
In 2017 and 2018 the NHL invited Team USA women hockey stars such as Hilary Knight, Kendall Coyne-Schofield, Meghan Duggan, Amanda Kessel, Hannah Brandt and Brianna Decker to demonstrate drills for the NHL Skills Competition, for the men (and I’ll just reiterate, DEMONSTRATE). The women demonstrators displayed the same skills as the men competitors with their times and shots recorded with the same technology that was used in the actual competition.
In 2018, a highlight for the women was when Coyne-Schofield put on a show displaying her wheels in the Fastest Skater where she demonstrated how to skate in a circle (woah that’s pretty hard to explain). The following year the NHL let her become the first woman to compete against men in any skills competition. She finished with a time of 14.346 seconds and beat out 1-of-the-8 male opponents, Clayton Keller of the Arizona Coyotes. The winner of the competition was the Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid, who finished with a time of 13.378 seconds and is now the three time defending champion in that event.
Even though the fastest skater competition is the second most electrifying event behind the hardest shot, it was not the moment where the women shined brightest. Decker crushed the passing challenge. During her trial there was controversy over a slight head start before the tech was ready to record her time in the passing challenge, where she could’ve potentially won the whole thing even though she wasn’t competing. As it stands today, the time she had finished with was at 1:06 minutes and it would’ve beat every male that competed in the challenge. The NHL awarded the prize money of $25,000 to the winner, and also stud from the Oilers, Leon Draisaitl, which sent the internet into a frenzy resulting in #PayDecker trending on twitter. After the event the NHL later proved via recording tape that if the clock functioned properly Draisaitl would’ve edged out Decker. No need to fear though, the CCM equipment manager paid Decker $25,000 out of his own pocket, which was great for the hockey equipment company’s PR.
It’s cool that the NHL can bring the women out to the All Star Game weekend festivities but if you’re going to bring the women out, the NHL should let them actually compete or else what is the point? This year that’s the action the NHL chose to take by allowing the women to play each other in what may be the latest edition of the Team USA vs Team Canada rivalry. Needless to say, I’m excited to see what kind of show the women put on this year in St Louis.