Mike Halford


WATCH LIVE: ASG Skills Competition, from Nashville

Tonight at 7 p.m. ET, you can catch the 2016 NHL All-Star Skills Competition on TV on NBCSN, or check it out live online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.


Here’s who’s competing in what at the NHL ASG Skills Competition

Tonight’s action marks the first real “on-ice” product of the weekend, but that doesn’t mean there’s been a lack of excitement or news. Here’s some relevant linkage from what PHT’s done live on location over the last few days:

Los Angeles will host the 2017 NHL All-Star game

Bettman rejects notion that the NHL is waiting for Seattle

John Scott’s going to enjoy the ride, ‘then go back to the real world’

Larkin admits it’s ‘kinda crazy’ to hear the Yzerman comparisons

Stamkos won’t deny it — contract situation’s ‘in your head, for sure’

NHL investigation of Patrick Kane still ‘ongoing’

Patrick Kane

The National Hockey League has not yet closed its investigation of Patrick Kane following an alleged sexual assault in August, deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed during All-Star weekend in Nashville.

More, from the Chicago Tribune:

Daly said the league’s investigation of the August incident in Western New York was still “ongoing” almost three months since Erie County district attorney Frank Sedita III did not charge Kane.

“When (the investigation) is done we’ll make an announcement,” Daly said.

Daly did not elaborate beyond that. When asked what the league could be looking into, considering there were no charges against Kane in the case, Daly said: “We have to satisfy ourselves with the facts.”

Back in early November, Sedita cited insufficient physical and DNA evidence and “significant material inconsistencies between the complainant’s accounts and those of other witnesses” as the reasons Kane wasn’t charged.

Kane’s accuser also signed an affidavit, informing the district attorney’s office that she no longer wanted to pursue criminal prosecution.

Following that news, Daly said the NHL would “promptly” review the situation.

“In light of the statement issued today by the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, as an internal League matter, we intend to promptly review the information that may now be available to us,” he said. “We will have no further comment until we have completed that review.”

Related: Blackhawks GM says Kane is ‘absolutely’ part of team’s long-term plans

Bettman: Pens franchise ‘in strong hands’ with Lemieux, Burkle

NHL All-Star Winter Park Nashville 2016 - Day 1
Getty Images

NASHVILLE — Gary Bettman has no concerns with the state of one of the NHL’s premier franchises.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, who in June were announced to be for sale, are “in strong hands” with co-owners Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux, Bettman said on Saturday in his annual address at NHL All-Star weekend.

“For a variety of reasons, some of them which may be personal, they’re exploring their options, but their support of the franchise has never wavered, and they’ve been great owners,” Bettman explained. “If they choose to make some adjustments, I’m sure they’ll do only what’s in the best interest long term of the franchise.”

That Burkle and Lemieux were “exploring their options” came as major news in a tumultuous time for the Penguins. The offseason prior, the club fired head coach Dan Bylsma and GM Ray Shero — two of the key architects of the club’s 2009 Stanley Cup win — replacing Shero with Jim Rutherford, and Bylsma with Mike Johnston.

Only one of them remains.

Johnston was dismissed midway through this season in favor of AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton bench boss Mike Sullivan. Rutherford has survived, though it hasn’t been easy — the veteran front office executive has come under heavy scrutiny for some of his personnel decisions and, last summer, had to go public and explain that, despite the uncertain ownership situation, Pittsburgh was still “very appealing” for free agents.

MORE: Pens’ owners seeking $750 million for sale of team

The status of the Burkle-Lemieux relationship has also come under scrutiny.

Earlier this month, the pair refuted a report in the New York Post that Lemieux was “miffed” at Burkle for “messing up the sale of” the franchise. The Post, citing three sources, reported that Lemieux “wanted to accept” a recent bid for the Penguins, but that Burkle “turned it aside” in the belief that the franchise was worth more.

Shortly after the report broke, the co-owners issued the following statement:

There is no disagreement between us, and we remain completely aligned in both approach and philosophy.

“We continue to explore all of our strategic options, including a possible sale.

“There is not, and has never been, an established price for the team, and we are still in conversations with potential buyers.”

More Penguins damage control:

‘It’s absolutely not true’ — Lemieux denies report of ‘big falling out’ with Crosby 

Penguins insist they’re not mad at each other

Here’s who’s competing in what at the ASG Skills Competition

Getty Images

NASHVILLE — The captains have assembled and decided which players will participate in the six events at Saturday’s NHL All-Stars Skills Competition.

Fastest Skater

EAST: Dylan Larkin, Brandon Saad, Kris Letang, Erik Karlsson

WEST: Roman Josi, Matt Duchene, Taylor Hall, Dustin Byfuglien

Accuracy Shooting

EAST: John Tavares, Claude Giroux, Patrice Bergeron, Evgeni Malkin

WEST: Patrick Kane, Corey Perry, Joe Pavelski, Jamie Benn

Breakaway Challenge

EAST: Brandon Saad, Evgeny Kuznetsov, P.K. Subban, Cory Schneider

WEST: James Neal, Matt Duchene, Brent Burns, Jonathan Quick

Hardest Shot

EAST: Aaron Ekblad, Steve Stamkos, P.K. Subban, Evgeni Malkin

WEST: Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Seguin, John Scott, Shea Weber


— The Skills Challenge Relay and NHL Shootout will be manned by a variety of skaters. To see the full list of participants, click here for the West and here for the East.

— Dustin Byfuglien in the fastest skater should be something to behold. Not because he can’t skate — he’s pretty fleet of foot — but because at 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, he’s one of the biggest players at All-Star Weekend.

— Right now, John Scott is set to participate in the hardest shot contest, and the shootout (which all players participate in.)

— Weber will look to defend his hardest shot title after hitting 108.5 mph on the gun last year in Columbus.

John Scott’s going to enjoy the ride, ‘then go back to the real world’


NASHVILLE — “Crazy.”

That what John Scott muttered upon walking through throngs of lights, cameras and reporters hovering in front of his podium at NHL All-Star Media Day.

Crazy is a pretty fair assessment.

Scott, the well-traveled journeyman known mostly for his 6-foot-8 frame, pugilistic skills and improbable ASG appearance, was the biggest attraction on Friday, holding court in front of a massive media contingent — just days after playing his fourth game with the St. John’s IceCaps.

Of the American Hockey League.

“I’m going back to Newfoundland!” Scott said, when asked how surreal this All-Star experience has been so far. “It’s definitely strange. You look around the locker room and everybody’s got their NHL logo on their helmets and stuff, and they threw the NHL logo on mine.

“It’s definitely always there, the ‘you’re not in the NHL anymore.’ It’s neat, though. I’m not used to it — all this [media scrum]. So I’m going to enjoy it while I’m here, and then go back to the real world.”

Scott then requested the media stick around, so he could take a picture of them.

If there’s one positive takeaway from what’s largely been a debacle, it’s Scott. He’s genuine. He’s honest. He’ll speak his mind, but not in a way that’s self-serving or indulgent.

Which is great, because he’s funny.

A reporter asked Scott about his controversial trade from Arizona to Montreal, which was rumored to be a mechanism in a larger plan to keep him from playing in the All-Star Game. The deal came under scrutiny for a variety of reasons, which included the fact Scott’s wife is well along in her pregnancy — so one scribe asked Scott what, if anything, the Coyotes did to help him out.

“And the end of the day, I’m a grown man and I can handle things myself,” Scott shot back. “I kinda don’t want their help, you know? It’s just like ‘you traded me, so beat it.’

“I don’t want to suck off your teat anymore.”

And with that, we had our first teat-sucking reference of All-Star weekend.

Scott does have a serious side, however. He showed as much in his recent Players’ Tribune piece, in which he thoughtfully broke down the odd dichotomy at play.

He’s at the All-Star Game as sort of a joke — the result of fans stuffing an online ballot box — but really, he ain’t no joke. Jokes don’t last eight years in the NHL, and appear in nearly 300 games. Jokes aren’t embraced by their teammates, which Scott absolutely has been in Nashville.

If there’s one thing worse than calling Scott a joke, it’s calling him a goon.

“It’s really a derogatory term,” he said. “I don’t like it when people call me a goon, and I hate it in articles when someone’s like ‘oh, the goon John Scott.’ I’m not a goon. If you look at my fights, I don’t fight that much every year. I fight like maybe six times a year.

“It’s just one of those things where you get this label, and it sticks.”

Between the Players’ Tribune article and Friday’s media session, the lead-up to All-Star weekend has done plenty in showing Scott in a new, more complex light. And he’ll have an even greater opportunity to keep the narrative going on Saturday, when he’ll participate in the hardest shot contest at the skills competition.

Scott probably would’ve participated in every contest if he could’ve. But this is All-Star weekend, filled with All-Star players — and even though he’s one of them right now, he knows it’s only temporary.

He’s wired differently from them, after all.

“I’m in the hardest shot, and hopefully I can get in something else,” he said. “But they’re always editing this stuff because guys don’t want to do something, or this and that.

“There’s a lot of prima donnas here.”