ESPN, NHL ruined All-Star Skills Competition on Friday

NHL All-Star Skills Competition. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NHL All-Star Skills Competition. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

If you tuned into ESPN’s broadcast of the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Friday night expecting to see a thrilling display of skill, you were probably disappointed.

I was one of those disappointed fans, as I love the skills competition. To me, it is the best part of the NHL’s All-Star Weekend, as it showcases not only the talent of the league’s stars but also their personalities, which fans don’t always get to see a lot of.

Unfortunately, this year’s competition was extremely dull and poorly produced by ESPN, which is in its second season as one of the NHL’s broadcasting partners.

The NHL and ESPN put together the worst skills competition I can recall.

The terrible skills competition comes just days after a drastic dip in NHL viewership in the U.S. was revealed. While that’s not entirely on ESPN or the NHL individually, there’s something clearly not working so far in their partnership, and that was on full display again on Friday.

Fans, members of the media, and even players were quick to comment on the strange nature of this year’s festivities.

It’s hard to even summarize how poorly done this event was, because there are so many bad aspects.

To start, ESPN still hasn’t figured out how to broadcast the NHL. Not only was there bad commentary throughout the evening but there were also odd technical glitches and people seemingly not on the same page as one another as well.

The broadcast itself was especially frustrating, because I enjoy listening to people like P.K. Subban and Kevin Weekes, but when they’re stuck doing awkward interviews to fill (a lot) of gaps in the action or weird sketches with players, it’s hard to watch.

Beyond that, the decision to start events, then move to a new event without completing the first event, was confusing. I’m not sure what the logic behind it was, but it certainly did not make for a good viewing experience at home, and I can’t imagine it was any better in person.

My final frustration with the event was the way that the women’s hockey players were incorporated. They seemed like an afterthought when having them be a part of the weekend is a great way to introduce them to NHL fans and have them show off their talents.

I mean, ESPN cut away from their introductions to do one of its many cringe-worthy player interviews, which seemed flat-out disrespectful to me.

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“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is a well-known saying, and ESPN and the NHL should have been reminded of that before planning this year’s skills competition. Let’s hope that Saturday’s All-Star Game goes over better.