Women players steal the show at NHL All-Star Weekend
Despite the Metropolitan Division’s win and Sidney Crosby taking the MVP Award, the biggest news at the NHL’s Honda All-Star Weekend in San Jose was made by women’s hockey and four women in particular.
They are Kendall Coyne Schofield, Brianna Decker, Renata Fast and Rebecca Johnston. Coyne Schofield and Decker are members of the U.S. Women’s National Team; Fast and Johnston are on the Canadian Women’s National Team.
The quartet was originally scheduled to demonstrate each part of the skills competition for the crowd before the official contest took place Friday night at the SAP Center.
They did much more than just demonstrate.
The Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon was scheduled to compete in the Bridgestone NHL fastest skater contest. But he was sidelined by a bruised left foot. So he suggested that Coyne Schofield take his place.
She became the first woman to ever compete in the event.
Her time of 14.346 seconds was less than a second slower than the 13.378 posted by the winner, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, who won for the third consecutive year. It placed her seventh out of the eight skaters, just ahead of the Phoenix Coyotes’ Clayton Kellar.
Her performance went viral.
“Obviously, I was a little nervous, but I knew it was a moment that was going to break a lot of barriers and a moment that would change the perception of our game and show support to our game,” Coyne Schofield said on ESPN.com.
Decker’s unofficial time during her demonstration of the Enterprise NHL premier passer event was later determined to be only seconds off the winning time of 1:09.088 recorded by the winner, Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl.
At first it appeared that Decker beat Draisaitl with a time of 1:06. But there was some confusion about when exactly the clock had started for her demo.
Six of the other NHL participants – (Ottawa), (Nashville), (San Jose), (St. Louis), (Colorado) and (Florida) – took longer than 1:25 to complete the drill.
Just after the competition on Friday night, Draisaitl told ESPN.com: “She beat me. Wow. That is impressive. That’s really impressive. Good for her.”
Each event winner received $25,000, and on Saturday, equipment manufacturer CCM tweeted that it would pay Decker $25,000.
On Saturday night, during the intermission of the second game – between the Metropolitan and Atlantic divisions – it was announced that the NHL would donate $25,000 in the name of each woman to the charity or hockey program of her choice.
In addition, Decker said the NHL had made a "personal gift" to each of them. And, during the game itself, Adidas announced it had signed all four players to endorsement deals.
The donations surprised the women.
“I feel like we're all in shock,” Decker told NHL.com. “Pretty special moment I think for us. We are all about growing the game, and to be able to help a charity at some point with the amount of money the NHL gave us, that's pretty important to us.
“We're going to have to figure out what we want to do and who we want to give it to. But, regardless, it's going to benefit our sport and benefit the community."
The crowd gave them a standing ovation.
“It went from a casual wave, to an awesome reception from San Jose, to getting $25,000 to a charity of our choice from the NHL,” Coyne Schofield said. “My emotion got the best of me, and I was just overjoyed.”
They may not play in the NHL, but Coyne Schofield, Decker, Fast and Johnston are definitely All-Stars.