Hockey, right now
THE NHL ALL-STAR GAME! IT'S A THING THAT HAPPENS!
Listen—it’s past my bedtime. I’ve got nothing.
Music: Gloria Estefan’s Party Time on loop. I have a mirror in front of my desk and my face seems anything but party time, but looks are deceiving. I think.
Mood: Lukewarm dishwater, but dry?
I’ve had a rough cough for a few days and it’s that, more than a lazy weekend and a hockey game on Saturday night, that’s zapped me of a soul.
You know what’s really exciting and full of soul? Not the NHL All-Star Game. That’s why I’ve written so much about it this week!
This isn’t from an All-Star Game—I just really like this picture.
The NHL All-Star Game in this reality
The NHL hosts an annual All-Star Game and in recent years it’s become the season’s biggest waste of time, resources, athletes, alcohol, and pure horny chaos energy.
It didn’t used to be like this! The chokehold on the proceedings used to be slightly looser and apparently furnished with an open bar, like when absolutely wasted Alex Ovechkin begged to be drafted last to an All-Star team so he could win a car (and donate it to charity).
I think that now the lead-up to the game is more fun than the televised hostage situation of the All-Star weekend. It just barely skates on the surface of exciting to see which players are chosen from each team and revel in the potential chaos they could bring if the entire affair wasn’t so rigorously scheduled and fucking boring.
One notable selection this year: Travis Konecny of the Philadelphia Flyers! If you’re curious about what makes him so fucking precious/hell’s freshest gremlin, watch some highlights from the 2019 outdoor series game where the Flyers played the Pittsburgh Penguins and someone decided to stick a microphone near his gaping maw for a while.
Last year the league introduced something called Last Man In, where they left one roster spot open in each division and let fans vote on who should be the last player added to the roster. I don’t think any team went as hard in their 2019 campaign as the Colorado Avalanche did in getting their captain, Gabe Landeskog, voted to the team, culminating in an ultra serious candidate video and LANDESDOG (photo source).
The Avs’ campaign for 2020 wants to send their very talented 21-year-old rookie Cale Makar to the game. There’s no adorable campaign video yet, but Insta content from Landeskog and Nikita Zadorov (center image) counts as helping, right? VOTE FOR THIS MINIVAN DRIVER.
There’s also the awful on-message menu for one of the team’s flights this week. CALE, DID YOU KNOW YOUR NAME IS A HOMOPHONE WITH A POPULAR CABBAGE? YOU CHOSE THIS LIFE.
My other team, the Washington Capitals, have done nothing interesting for their Last Man In campaign for T.J. Oshie because everyone on the team is a father or an actual baby and they all need the fucking rest. Send another Flyer or something.
The NHL All-Star Game in any other reality
“You’re so fucking smart (critical), what the fuck would you do, huh?”
OH, WHAT WOULDN’T I DO!
First, I should clarify: the NHL All-Star Weekend is actually split into two parts: the skills competition on the first day and the All-Star Game on the second. The skills competition should be really fun! It’s so fucking boring.
I’ve divided the events into disciplines, with the idea that admission into the All Star Game would be at least doubled and have a greater spread to include well-known actual “all stars” as well as lesser known guys who have, I dunno, had a hot streak that month, or their teammates just really like them and want them to go make an ass of themselves in front of a bigger audience than usual. I think I want less of a skills competition and more of a silly competitive summer camp with catering and cocktails.
Events in the FOOD discipline
A Supermarket Sweep-style game show. Just a straight up episode of Supermarket Sweep where millionaires and league minimum athletes have to guess the price of household goods and also find them in a fucking supermarket.
See also: Nailed It; The Great British Bake Off; Top Chef—one of them, all of them, go for it. You’re the fucking NHL. Open your fucking wallet!
Cook a depression meal
Meal prep elimination tournament: first round is meal prep for one; second round is meal prep for two with 1-2 dietary restrictions; third round is meal prep for two adults, two children, 3-4 dietary restrictions.
The championship round is to meal prep for their own household: a professional athlete subsisting on ~10K calories per game day, a spouse running their own wellness line of products who needs to incorporate several pastes, gels, and powders into various aesthetically appropriate brand-positive photogenic foods, and the 2-4 feral children they only interact with in person 4 out of 7 days a week.
CULINARY CURVEBALL: Halfway through, the team acquires a rookie who needs a responsible household to bunk with for a while. His typical pre-game meal is a large undercooked potato that he eats like an apple while heating up 30 chicken nuggets on a plastic plate in the oven.
Cook a romantic dinner
You see each other naked at work every single day, so it’s not like you haven’t looked at each other, or fallen asleep in the same hotel room because it was late and those episodes of How It’s Made are so fucking soothing. Over the years, he has picked up from the ice both the puck from your first point and also at least six of your teeth. You laugh at each other’s unfunny jokes. He’s drooled on your $6000 bespoke suit at night after a game while on the team bus to the airport. Things don’t feel right when you both finally leave the rink or the arena without each other. What are you going to cook him?
(FYI: the answer is a meal featuring the fish caught off the dock at your secluded retirement lake house, the one that only seemed to come together when you kept thinking of what he likes in a house. He hasn’t come to visit yet. When he does, you’ll be home.)
For those players who know how to mix things and turn on ovens: The Cook Without a Recipe Challenge.
You Gonna Eat That?
Players take turns eating things they’ve never tried before, ranging from eel to grapefruit to crickets to hummus. Life is a rich tapestry; I think we’d all be surprised at what they have and haven’t put in their mouths.
Events in the ANIMAL HUSBANDRY discipline
Players have 30 minutes to train a dog to do one thing
Herd cats (a mix of kittens and older cats).
Name That Dog
Name That Cat
Name That Baby (Inspired by the OHL Draft)
Players literally look at a photo of a dog/cat/baby and guess its given name.
That sounds a little too safe; I much prefer a version where players try to name a dog/cat/baby and see where it goes. Bonus if they’re paired up and it’s their hypothetical dog/cat/baby.
What’s in the Box except Biz Nasty is trapped in the box and players choose animals to drop in there with him. The game element—who cares? Put him in a box and throw in a scorpion. The big ones are fine, right?
THE CANINE CALENDAR DRAFT
The calendar captain drafts 12 players for their own charity puppy calendar. Calendar captain brainstorms and directs the entire photoshoot.
Should We Get a Dog?
Players listen to different relationship scenarios and discuss whether a dog would complement them or whether it’s a disguised cry for help that would impact the long-term health and happiness of a dog.
NOTE: This leans extremely dog heavy because cats wouldn’t put up with any of this shit. You and I both respect them for that.
Events in the ACTUAL FUCKING SPORTS discipline
Reminder: the NHL All-Star Weekend actually has a skills competition on the first night. It’s extremely fucking boring. Also, they’re professional fucking athletes and play the same goddamned sport every single day of their lives. MIX THAT SHIT UP. When’s the last time you saw someone try the shot put? The 2016 Olympics? Whatever, surely some giant lump of beef wants to try it. Remember how wild motherfuckers went for curling? YEAH. More of that!
Single and pairs figure skating. Automatic elimination, $5K fine, and ejection from the All-Star weekend for homophobic clowning.
Babysitting elimination tournament: first round infants; second round toddlers; third round teenagers; championship round is an intensive therapy session discussing how they’ve unpacked and processed their own past trauma.
Accounting for Women’s Hockey
Players try to get their women’s hockey team off the ground. The event should end with thoughtful written endorsements from players to the league, exhorting the league to set up a woman’s hockey league with the support of the PWHPA or, you know, signing women to existing NHL teams. Fucking wild.
Archery. There’s no catch, just idiots with bows and arrows. What could go wrong?
Ohhhhh put them on the ice fuck
Canvassing for progressive political candidates
Tag. Just play a fucking game of tag!
Players mingle at a party where they don’t know anyone.
Bonus: It’s a book launch, poetry reading, or graduate student wine and cheese party.
This year I’m going to make plans to take me out of the house so I’m not tempted to watch and be disappointed by the skills competition. It’s not fun. Everyone always looks bored or, at best, adorable and bored (photo source), and that’s not good enough when that’s already my daily life (looking adorable and bored).
You know who would probably be not-very-good at the puppy competitions, and who has never been to the NHL All-Star Game? This horse girl. Goddammit, I didn’t include a single horse-themed competition! Whatever, there’s always next year.