2019 NHL All-Star Game

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Q&A: Kendall Coyne Schofield on impact of NHL Skills participation, 2019 Women’s Worlds

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EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — It’s been a busy two months for U.S. national team forward Kendall Coyne Schofield. Since her participation in the Fastest Skater competition during the 2019 NHL Skills in San Jose she’s appeared on NBCSN, NHL Network and FOX Sports West as an analyst, spoke on a handful of panels, partnered with adidas and CCM Hockey, played in the Rivalry Series three-game set against Canada, and helped lead the NWHL’s Minnesota Whitecaps to the Isobel Cup.

Now that life has settled down a bit, Coyne Schofield and her U.S. teammates are on Long Island for training camp ahead of the 2019 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Finland from April 4-14. The Americans have won seven of the last eight gold medals at the event, all against Canada, and are gunning for their fifth title in a row.

“It’s been busy but it’s been extremely exciting,” Coyne Schofield told Pro Hockey Talk on Wednesday. “We’re seeing the game grow before our eyes and I think that’s what’s so exciting about everything that has happened from All-Star Weekend.”

Days after clocking in a Fastest Skater time of 14.226 and beating out Clayton Keller of the Arizona Coyotes, Coyne Schofield was on-air during an NBCSN broadcast between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning. While she reached out to a few people for advice beforehand, veterans in the business like our own Kathryn Tappen and FOX’s Laura Okmin provided some support.

She’s since done the same role for a few other games and enjoyed the experience.

“It’s been awesome. I love it,” she said. “It’s so fun to talk about the game that I’m so passionate about, that I love. Just to be able to dissect a hockey game for an audience and for people who love hockey is so much fun.”

As for what’s next, well, that’s a question to be answered after the Worlds. Coyne Schofield said she’s keeping her focus at the moment on helping the U.S. capture gold once again.

We caught up with Coyne Schofield after the team’s opening practice to talk about the impact of her NHL Skills participation, the growth of women’s hockey internationally, and more.

Enjoy.

PHT: During your post-Skills press conference you talked about how your participation would break barriers and change perception about women in hockey. Since then, what’s been the reaction you’ve received in your travels and on social media from young girls and women who saw your Fastest Skater loop?

COYNE SCHOFIELD: “The reaction has been extremely uplifting. Everyone’s seen it, whether it’s directed at me or directed at our game, it’s been extremely positive and eye-opening. I think some people never knew women’s hockey existed before they saw a woman skating a lap on the NHL platform. It’s been amazing but extremely awesome to see all these young girls aspiring to dream big and do something that they never thought could be done before. I think that’s what’s so special.”

PHT: Seeing you, Brianna Decker, Renata Fast, and Rebecca Johnston there taking part opened some eyes around the NHL, and brought up the idea that maybe in the future women could participate fully in All-Star Weekend.

COYNE SCHOFIELD: “Absolutely. I think that’s what was so special about that moment is it opened a lot of doors. In my opinion, the sky’s the limit to this point. I was the first one to compete in one event, but there’s multiple events, there’s a game. The sky’s the limit after the stance the NHL decided to take that night, which I’m so grateful for and I know our sport is grateful for as well. We worked so hard to be put in the conversation to have that moment, and it was just me skating, but it was everyone who allowed that moment to happen in our sport. I hope we see a 3-on-3 team one day and see women competing in every event because there’s so many spectacular players that belong.”

PHT: The Women’s Worlds added two more teams and is up to 10 for the tournament this year. How have you seen the competition improve outside of the U.S./Canada rivalry since your first year playing internationally?

COYNE SCHOFIELD: “It’s grown tremendously. [Going from 8 to 10 teams], that shows the growth, and it’s not just U.S. and Canada anymore. A lot of people have that perception, but if they turn on a game — and our games will be on NHL Network, so they can do that — they’ll notice that the game has grown throughout the entire world.”

PHT: The U.S. has won seven of the previous eight gold medals, all against Canada. You play them in the second game. How important is it to get that game in early in the tournament?

COYNE SCHOFIELD: “It’s important. It’s a game you look forward to but you have to take it one game at a time. You can’t look past Finland in their home country at the World Championship stage. We’re focused on Finland for Game 1 and then we’ll shift our focus to Canada. It’s a long tournament, and we get an extra game — more hockey, which is super exciting. We’re really looking forward to it because it’s year one of four, and whoever’s there in year four, we’re consistently building starting year one to peak in year four.”

PHT: What are the biggest strengths of this group?

COYNE SCHOFIELD: “It’s everyone’s compete level, everyone’s will to want to win, and everyone’s so proud to represent Team USA. It’s such a good, hard-working group, whether it’s your first World Championship or their 10th, everyone’s here for the same goal and everyone’s able to own their role. It’s just an awesome group to be a part of.”

PHT: Sometimes new blood is good for a team but this is a very veteran team. That has to be big for the group in order to keep the momentum of the last few years going.

COYNE SCHOFIELD: “Oh, definitely. For a while we felt like we were chasing and now we feel like we’re the ones being chased. As veteran players, we need to make sure the younger players don’t feel like younger players because they’re not. If you made it to this level you’re not a younger player, you’re an elite level player and you belong here. Everyone can bring their own special talent and we put it all together and that’s what makes us Team USA and the best team in the world.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Kendall Coyne Schofield to serve as NBC Sports analyst on Wednesday Night Hockey

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STAMFORD, Conn. – January 29, 2019 – 2018 Olympic gold medalist Kendall Coyne Schofield will join NBC Sports’ coverage for this week’s Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN (watch live stream here).

Coyne, who currently plays for the Minnesota Whitecaps of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL), became the first woman to compete in an NHL All-Star Skills Competition event this past weekend when she participated in the fastest skater event.

Coyne will be featured on NBC Sports’ commentary team throughout the night, joining NHL Live pre-game coverage, providing reaction and analysis during intermissions, and serving as an ‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst, and booth analyst.

“Kendall’s a gold-medal winning player who had a spectacular moment at the All-Star Game that had people talking about hockey,” said Sam Flood, Executive Producer and President, Production, NBC Sports & NBCSN. “We saw the enormous reaction the players and fans had when she blazed that amazing speed, and want to celebrate her accomplishment. We think viewers will be very interested to hear her lean in and talk about hockey during a regular-season game.”

Coyne will join the broadcast team of John Forslund (play-by-play), U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member Eddie Olczyk (analyst) and Emmy Award-winner Pierre McGuire (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) for the call from PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Wednesday night.

Pre-game coverage starts at 7 p.m. ET on NHL Live, hosted by Liam McHugh alongside analysts Mike Milbury, Keith Jones and NHL insider Bob McKenzie.

MORE: Coyne Schofield’s NHL All-Star Skills participation makes big statement

Isles’ Mathew Barzal impresses All-Star teammates

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SAN JOSE — Barry Trotz’s message to Mathew Barzal before he left for the 2019 NHL All-Star Game was simple.

“Take note of the top, top players, the absolute top players, how they interact with not only the fans, but other players and how prepared they are,” the New York Islanders head coach said earlier this week.

The 21-year-old Barzal was one of the youngest players to take part in All-Star Weekend and got to live out a dream playing with his idol, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. 

Set up with Crosby and Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, the trio helped guide the Metropolitan Division to the All-Star title, first topping the Atlantic Division 7-4 before winning the $1M prize after a 10-5 victory over the Central Division in the final. Barzal played his part scoring twice and assisting on two others. The three of them combined to score eight of their team’s 17 goals.

The extra space provided by the 3-on-3 format allowed Barzal to show off his puck-handling abilities and utilize the speed that helped him finish third in Friday’s Fastest Skater event. Those talents also impressed his All-Star teammates, who see a lot of him on the other side of the ice as division foes.

“The way he holds onto the puck, the way he skates, 3-on-3, I don’t know if there is anyone better when it comes to holding onto it,” said Crosby, who earned MVP honors. “The way that he can just beat you 1-on-1, beat you with his speed, hold onto it. You watch him out there against the best, I don’t see anyone that really beats him in that category.

“Five-on-5, he’s able to do that, so 3-on-3 with all that ice, seeing that firsthand, I’ve seen that a lot and today was another example of that.”

The extra space and having those two dynamic forwards on the ice helped create tough situations for the Atlantic and Central Division teams. Crosby and Letang have played together for 13 seasons in Pittsburgh, so there was already a chemistry built in between the Penguins teammates. Barzal’s skills only strengthened the trio.

“You already have a chemistry going and we added a tremendous player with Mathew, who was just skating everywhere carrying the puck,” said Letang. “I was just staying back making sure there was nothing happening behind us.”

“Sid just kind of said, ‘Just grab it and get us up the ice and we’ll find a spot,’ so, it was kind of cool,” Barzal said. “Those guys would pass me the puck and them working to get open and I was just trying to find them.”

Barzal, last season’s Calder Trophy winner, leads the Islanders in points through 49 games with 14 goals and 31 assists. In his second NHL season he’s helped guide the team to a surprising start — one that sees them atop their division. He’ll now get to remember this weekend and enjoy a few days off as the team begins its bye week before a big matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning at Nassau Coliseum on Friday.

“It’s obviously something I’m not going to forget,” Barzal said. “I’ve got my parents here this week, which is great. It’s just been really fun lately. Our Islander team’s been doing well and to come here and do well and get a chance to play with Sid and Letang and Claude [Giroux] and some new faces, it’s been a blast.”

MORE:
NHL All-Star Skills 2019: Winners, funny moments, Gritty
NHL All-Star Game 2019: Metro wins final, Crosby lands MVP
All-Star MVP adds to Crosby’s ‘great memories’ of San Jose
Sharks soak in the love from fans during NHL All-Star Weekend

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

All-Star MVP adds to Crosby’s ‘great memories’ of San Jose

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SAN JOSE — For the second time in his NHL career, Sidney Crosby leaves SAP Center with a big individual award.

Crosby’s four-goal, eight-point night during the 2019 All-Star 3-on-3 tournament helped him earn MVP honors as the Metropolitan Division rolled to the $1M prize. It was three years ago that he won the first of two straight Conn Smythe Trophies after helping the Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup over the San Jose Sharks. Along with the money and the trophy, he also received a 2019 Honda Pilot.

“You play in it, you watch it as a kid growing up, see the presentation, and it’s pretty cool,” the Penguins captain said afterward. “I had a lot of fun today. [I] didn’t need to win the car today to have a good time.”

Crosby is now the sixth player in NHL history to win All-Star Game MVP, the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Hart Trophy, joining Jean Beliveau, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, and Joe Sakic. He’s also the fourth Penguin to be named All-Star Game MVP, and first since Lemieux in 1990.

[NHL All-Star Game 2019: Metro wins final, Crosby lands MVP]

Being able to take part in the All-Star Game was a relief for Crosby, who missed Friday’s All-Star Skills with an illness, something he’d been battling for a few days during the Penguins’ bye week.

“At the end of my bye week I was feeling sick and didn’t really leave the hotel room for a couple days,” he said. “I was just excited to be able to get out there, get out of the room and exercise a bit. Once I got out there I felt better than I thought. This morning I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel, but I felt a lot better than I expected. To be honest, it was just nice to get out there. The last few days have been pretty long sitting around.”

Whatever Crosby was battling internally this week didn’t stop him on the ice Saturday night. Playing with Penguins teammate Kris Letang and Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders, the trio were electric on the ice. They combined for eight of the Metropolitan Division’s 17 goals.

That on-ice success only added to the power of the SAP Center’s boos coming Crosby’s way, which he was expecting after seeing Letang’s introduction before the All-Star Skills. It probably also reminded the Sharks fans in attendance of the 2016 Final, which ended with Crosby earning the primary assist on what turned out to be the Penguins’ game-winning goal in Game 6.

“Got some great memories here, for sure,” Crosby said.

MORE:
NHL All-Star Skills 2019: Winners, funny moments, Gritty
All-Star MVP adds to Crosby’s ‘great memories’ of San Jose
Sharks soak in the love from fans during NHL All-Star Weekend

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

NHL All-Star Game 2019: Metro wins final, Crosby lands MVP

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Sidney Crosby and the Metropolitan Division won the final round of the 2019 NHL All-Star Game, beating the Central Division 10-5.

Crosby ended up earning MVP honors one night after (*cough cough*) skipping the 2019 NHL All-Star Skills. Crosby joined Mathew Barzal in generating two goals and three assists for five points against the Central. Overall, Crosby had four goals and four assists for eight points in two 3-on-3 games.

He also busted out some And1 Mixtape-like moves, even when they didn’t directly translate to goals or assists.

The Metro built a commanding 5-0 lead through the first period, as Henrik Lundqvist enjoyed a rare shutout period by making all six stops. Lundqvist also won the save streak relay on Friday, so this had to be a refreshing weekend for the veteran goalie as he looks to close out a tough season with the Rangers.

Crosby and his Metro mates win the $1 million, while Sid gets a Honda minivan as the MVP winner.

While there weren’t many great moments of skin-tight defense, there were plenty of great highlights over Saturday’s three games, including a fantastic goal from Steven Stamkos.

[Recaps of Metro beating Atlantic; Central topping Pacific]

And, of course, it was a lot of fun for everyone involved. Which moments will stick with you the most from this enjoyable weekend of low-pressure, high-skill hockey?

Ultimately, it was all about the fans. Even fans of your rivals.

MORE:
NHL All-Star Skills 2019: Winners, funny moments, Gritty
All-Star MVP adds to Crosby’s ‘great memories’ of San Jose
Sharks soak in the love from fans during NHL All-Star Weekend

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.