Once a Garage League, always a Garage League

*Obstacle Course Relay: F:

Nobody, including the announcers, seemed to know what was going on. Whoever designed this monstrosity ought to be drawn and quartered, or at least forced to watch the Devils the rest of the year. The idea that you could combine four events into one is beyond ludicrous. I had no clue how the scoring was being done. Neither did Doc Emrick or the Great Edzo. Neither did Versus. When they broke for a commercial, it was 1-1. When they came back, it was 2-1 East. Did we miss something? Did they not show one of the relays? Did they adjust the score? To make matters worse, the production and camera work was just awful. You simply couldn’t follow what was going on as they tried to go back and forth between “events.” Oh, and Rick DiPietro’s mic didn’t work, either. This lead-off activity was so terrible that I would guess that half of the dozens who tuned in changed the channel.

Fastest Skater: F

It used to be that the fastest skater thing was halfway entertaining. It was fun watching two guys take a quick lap around the rink. But the NHL had to go and ruin that fun, too. Gee, wasn’t that exciting, watching two guys do sprints to the opposite blueline {yawn}. Okay, I suppose even this could have been mildly entertaining had they at least had a clue what was going on themselves. Whether it was Versus or The Garage League (TGL), this one was screwed up from the start. The times on the screen seemed to be reversed. Either that or we and the announcers didn’t know the rules, because each time, the guy we all thought crossed the line first had the slowest time. Now, it doesn’t take much to confuse Edzo the coach, but when you confuse Edzo the announcer, well, it must be FUBAR. Then, in the final, as best as I could tell, they had the fastest West guy against the slowest East guy. If someone can explain that one to me, I’m all ears.

Shooting Accuracy: C

Well, at least they didn’t muck this one up TOO much. But they still felt compelled to add a final round for some reason. It was fine the way it was before, so why did they have to go and change it? But for the maybe first time ever, I found myself cheering for Maple Leaf on that last shot, just to get it over with.

Hardest Shot: B

Thankfully, they didn’t change this one at all. And there was no change in the winner, either, as Zdeno Chara took it again, with the second hardest shot ever. The highlight, as always, was seeing a shot of Al Iafrate’s bald mullet. You can never get enough of that.

Elimination Shootout: F

By this time, the wine was kicking in, and my senses were getting duller. Here is further proof that offensive skill does not translate into shootout success. When a defenseman (Dion Phaneuf) wins the shootout competition, what does that say for your Garage League? Oh, and what’s up with the world’s worst skilled player at shootouts. Evgeni Malkin, actually scoring on his first try?

Breakaway Challenge: F

This grade is for all the players who decided to treat it as nothing more than a shootout. At least the two finalists, Alex Ovechkin and Ryan Getzlaf, seemed to “get it.” The players were obviously unaware that this event was all about entertainment, not who could score the most goals. Most of them just did regular shootout moves, while the two finalists went totally against the grain and did entertaining moves. Ovechkin’s was by far the most original. Too bad he couldn’t score on it, but I’d love to see him try that in a shootout sometime. I also enjoyed Getzlaf’s backwards-skating approach. As for the judges, I leave it to the inimitable Michael Menser-Dell over at LCS Hockey, who said it best:

But here’s the best part: a panel of celebrity judges will score each attempt. And the NHL pulled out all the stops, getting George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, and Keira Knightley to serve as judges. Hold on, I’m sorry, I read the press release wrong. The judges are actually Scott Mellanby, Dominique Wilkins, Bill Clement, and Taylor Kitsch.

Yeah, don’t worry, I have no idea who Taylor Kitsch is either. But who better to judge spectacular goals than a basketball player, an obscure actor, and two guys who never scored a highlight reel goal in their lives? Really, this is going to work out just fine. Don’t sweat it.

Young Stars Game: B

Remember two years ago, after the lockout, when the young stars event was oozing with talent and the future of the league was bright? Flash forward two years and who do you see on the ice in the young stars game? No, your eyes did not deceive you, that really was David Clarkson out there skating with the likes of Patrick Kane and Nicklas Backstrom. David Friggin’ Clarkson. Let that sink in. Man, the future’s so bright I might have to wear transparent shades or something. At least the event was more entertaining than last year’s version, but it was basically one breakaway after another. I guess they couldn’t find any young goalies to participate because they didn’t want to scar them for life. But why weren’t guys like Karri Ramo and Josh Harding in there instead of a fossil like Manny Legace? Makes no sense at all. I guess we only want to showcase good skaters, not good goalies? In addition, the scores on the screen were not matching what I was seeing on the ice.

Overall: F

This was an exercise in tedium. They crammed way too much into way too short a time, I suppose in a last-ditch effort to keep the fans awake. It barely worked.

And now, the rest of the story…

Icehole of the Night

This goes to Daniel Alfredsson, who in, the shooting accuracy event, shot one right at Scott Niedermayer. Okay, he didn’t really, but it sure brought back flashbacks to the finals last year seeing them on the same ice. Besides, Alfie is one of those guys who can almost get this award by default just by being on the ice.

Monk Moment

Actual interview:

Bob Harwood: “One of our Eastern goaltenders has flashed his in front of you for the last little minute.”

Don Waddell: “Ricky’s got a way to show himself.”

Yes, they actually said that. I need say no more.

Striped Buffoon Huh? Call of the Night

This has to be all the homer Atlanta judges that gave Ilya Kovalpunk such high marks for his incredibly boring breakaway move. Thankfully, it wasn’t enough to get him into the final.