Fear the Fin Round Table: All-Star Weekend
The Gang Reflects on the All-Star Weekend in San Jose.
As you may have heard, the San Jose Sharks hosted the 2019 NHL All Star Game. From Thursday through Sunday, San Jose was the center of the hockey world. It was a wonderful event and a weekend that we will never forget. In between Fan Fair, the Skills Competition, and the All-Star Game, many of the Fear the Fin writers had the opportunity to meet up and geek-out on hockey. It was great.
In the wake of this great event, which generate so many great moments, we asked the FtF staff to share their favorite, least favorite, and most surprising moments of the weekend.
East Bay Ry
Before taking his turn in the Most Accurate Shot Contest, Auston Matthews removed his jersey to reveal a No. 12 Patrick Marleau jersey. The crowd went wild. Marleau was my favorite Shark, and I was kind of hoping that he would make a cameo. He didn’t but, Matthews paying tribute to his current teammate was a great moment and the best fan service in a very long time.
Also, I absolutely love Lachlan’s description of the weekend: “ComicCon for hockey nerds.” Perfect.
Least Favorite Thing:
There were a few things that did not go well this weekend. The way the league treated Brianna Decker. The rendition of the Nation Anthem.
But the least enjoyable thing for me was John Gibson’s performance. Ugh. By letting in 7 goals on 9 shots, Gibson ensured that the Pacific Division was out of the running less than ten minutes into the game. The Tank was pumped to see the hometown boys skate with guys like Connor McDavid and Johnny Gaudreau, and it was a major disappointment to see the nights of Karlsson, Burns and Pavelski end so early. Gibson has played incredibly well for an injury-riddled Ducks team so far this season, and watching him get lit up as the Pacific Division bowed out early was. The. Worst.
How much fun I had at the Mascots Game. If you had told me beforehand that I would enjoy the Mascots Game as much as I did, I would not have believed you. But there I was smiling and laughing the whole time as Sharkie, Gritty, and the rest of the mascots skated, shot, and goofed around.
A close second is that Sidney Crosby actually played.
Watching the All-Stars, especially EK65, Pavs and Burns, just have a good time and enjoy themselves, and of course seeing them do that with all the other all-stars in San Jose. It’s nice to just watch these guys, the other All-Stars as well, have fun playing hockey smiles and all without worrying about a team’s performance. The Matthews-Marleau bit was awesome too.
Least Favorite Thing:
The Puck Control Competition and Premier Passing being a bit rigged. The final challenges in both these skill competitions gave unfair advantages. In the premier passing it was how fast the lights would change places to shoot at which messed up some performances. In the case of the puck control, the last light being the lower obstacle to shoot it easiest since you can just saucer it through as Patrick Kane did was advantageous, unlike the middle three-foot high hole or upper hole being the last since that takes longer to lift up the puck and then shoot. Both those need to be consistent for all players if it’s to be fair.
Most Surprising Thing:
Hearing chants of “We want Fleury!” ring through SAP center. Never thought I’d see the day. Gibson’s performance was truly something special to foster that kind of reaction. He single-handedly ruined the home crowd’s desire to see the Pacific advance with how terrible he was in the opening period. Thanks a lot, Gibson. Have fun going back to rotting behind a terrible Anaheim defense next week. I take solace expecting ineptitude from the Ducks knowing that they’re tied to your ridiculous contract for years to come.
I absolutely loved watching the women of Team USA and Team Canada go head to head with the men. Watching hockey history when Kendall Coyne Schofield took part in the Skills Competition was a thrill. There’s a lot the NHL does wrong, but the league’s continued support of the women in the sport is something to be applauded.
My heart tells me to say that it was watching Auston Matthews take off his Maple Leafs jersey to reveal a Patrick Marleau jersey, but I’m going to say I loved the mascots the most. They were funny, playful and friendly. It’s hard to remember that these guys are pros too. They knew how to deal with kids, adults and made you laugh at every turn. They were amazing.
Least Favorite Thing:
The Pacific Division sucking so badly ... no really, the line to take a picture with the Stanley Cup. It was awesome to see the Cup at Fan Fest, but when you show up at 10:30 a.m., put yourself in the virtual line to take a picture with it, and don’t receive a text message until 2:45 p.m., an hour and a half after you’ve left, that’s a problem. I get the impression the NHL didn’t expect that many people to wanted to take a picture with the Cup, but how could you not prepare for hundreds of people wanting to take a picture with hockey’s Holy Grail?
How much fun I had. I’ve watched the All-Star Game and Skills Competition on television in year’s past and there were times that I was bored, but being there in person is a completely different experience. I sat next to a pair of Pittsburgh fans and I had a great time trading hockey stories with them. I was surrounded by a bunch of hockey fans who were there for the love of the game. And the amount of skill on the ice was just astounding. There was a lot to enjoy.
Watching Brent Burns run and hoot and holler with the kids at Roosevelt Park’s new Sharks-branded street hockey rink. Noticing that after Erik Karlsson and Joe Pavelski had left the rink, Burns was still out there playing street hockey with the kids.
Least Favorite Thing:
The Pacific squad’s quick exit during the All-Star Game, depriving the local fans more time with San Jose’s All-Stars.
That Karlsson even showed up.
Kendall Coyne’s entry in the fastest skater competition.
John Gibson not giving a damn in the actual game.
I had no idea MacKinnon was injured, but it was worth getting to see the women take part in some of the events.
Also, I would like to add that meeting everyone (from Fear the Fin) after the Skills competition was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I can’t thank them all enough for their support.
As someone who went to the 2019 All-Star Weekend, I can tell you with full certainty that TV broadcasts simply can’t do it justice. It was by far was one of the greatest experiences of my life; getting to see some of the greatest hockey players in the world just having fun and showcasing their talent, all surrounding a full four-day weekend of hockey related festivities and events.
The best part of the whole weekend might not have been the NHL players we all came to see. It was Minnesota Whitecaps forward Kendall Coyne Schofield for becoming the first woman to ever compete in an NHL Skills competition and Calgary Inferno winger Brianna Decker for unofficially winning the Precision Passing competition, after apparently finishing three seconds ahead of the NHL winner, Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl. Seeing female hockey players not only be able to compete with, but actually best some of the biggest names in the men’s game, is a huge step forward for the sport.
Least Favorite Thing:
If I do have anything to say poorly about the weekend — besides the disappointingly small selection of All-Star merchandise — was the shockingly bad way Team Pacific bowed out of the 3-on-3 tournament, in an embarrassing 10-4 loss to the Central Division.
With the home squad out of the tourney after the very first game, they took most of the SAP Center atmosphere with them. During the last two games the fans were noticeably more quiet and seemingly uninterested now that Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson and Joe Pavelski were finished. If I’m the NHL, I’d consider adding a fourth game between the two losing teams; that way the fans are guaranteed to see each division play twice.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the biggest surprise of the weekend was Auston Matthews’ tribute to Sharks legend and current Leaf Patrick Marleau. Matthews is undoubtedly part of the future wave of players who see themselves both athletes and showmen, and he sure gave everyone a crash course on how to get the San Jose crowd on your side before the Accuracy Shooting competition. Stick taps, Auston.