However you feel about the actual game (or recently, games) that come with the All-Star experience, you have to be a real stick in the mud not to enjoy the skills competition.
The 2018 All-Star Skills Challenge did not disappoint in that regard.
The six events and everything around them brought about some fantastic ribbing from fans to a few polarizing players, many heartwarming moments where players gave back, stupendous displays of talent, and more. Let’s take a look at some of the standout bits.
Alex Pietrangelo is donating the $25K he won in the passing competition to charity, and that’s likely far from the only great gesture to come from this weekend.
Rickard Rakell spent time with Katie Hawley, a fan who fought off cancer on three occasions.
Brian Boyle, feel-good story of the weekend
One of the best ovations came to former Lightning forward Brian Boyle, who is fighting cancer. Every now and then, All-Star games give us a chance for emotional moments like these.
It prompted Boyle to take a moment to thank Lightning fans specifically.
Everyone’s favorite goofball, Marc-Andre Fleury
Only Marc-Andre Fleury would choose a song from “Frozen” to pump him up during something like the save streak …
And then win it all, edging Pekka Rinne 14-13.
Some of the most fascinating fan interaction moments coming during player introductions. Who will get cheered? When will we hear a pin drop? Which players will be jeered the most heartily?
You wonder if Tampa Bay fans would identify even more “villains” in the next postseason, as they may very well be in for some bitter battles during the upcoming playoffs. Still, it was noticeable that Patrick Kane and Sidney Crosby drew some heat.
Recently suspended forward Brad Marchand might have gotten it the most, or at least he received it most often, as fans booed him during introductions (which he relished) and clearly enjoyed it as Marchand struggled during the accuracy shooting.
However you feel about Marchand, few NHL players were as comfortable in this role:
Fun shots, fun moments
This kid might need to get his shot in the puck control relay, honestly.
Sometimes it’s comforting to see elite athletes struggle (fooling us into thinking they’re just like us), so Marchand’s issues during the accuracy shooting and Drew Doughty‘s frustrations were memorable.
The U.S. women’s Olympic team were in Tampa, which opened up some fun photo ops, like Hilary Knight and Alex Ovechkin (via NBC’s Matt Ziance):
Erik Karlsson, you scamp.
Actually, would a pirate call Karlsson a scamp, or something else?
It’s cool seeing opponents pal around, and it also provides opportunities for old friends to see each other again, like Crosby (and Kris Letang) did with MAF:
Henrik Lundqvist speaks for most of us in simply saying that it was a lot of fun. Yes, yes it was.
More from the All-Star Skills Challenge