Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Making The Skills Competition Suck Less

Is it just me or was last night's Skills Competition painful to watch ("It's just you that's painful to watch, J.P.")? No doubt there were senior citizens across the country changing the channel from the State of the Union to the Skills Competition thinking that the latter would be less likely to elevate their heart rate.

Assuming that there is actually a "need" for a Skills Competition (as opposed to the ones that end every tied regular season hockey game these days), can the event be saved? Sure. How? Here are some ideas:
  1. Judge and reward creativity. Remember the first time Dr. J took off from the free-throw line or Dominique Wilkins did a tomahawk reverse dunk in a Slam Dunk Competition? Ok, me neither. But I bet you remember Marek Malik's shootout goal against the Caps last year. Why not expand the breakaway competition and turn it into something akin to the Dunk Competition in which players are judged for originality as well as execution? If there was a chance I'd see a Robbie Schremp- or Ron Hisey-like move, I'd tune in.
  2. More hockey, less schlock-ey. Instead of a three-on-goalie "In The Zone" competition (yawn), how about three minute 2-on-2's? Imagine Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Marty Brodeur going up against Joe Thornton, Teemu Selanne and Miikka Kiprusoff for a few minutes. Not only would there undoubtedly be sick passes, goals and saves, it would also be a great teaser for the following night's game.
  3. Brief the announcers (and the players) on the rules. Crosby and Selanne each had approximately 14 "last shots" at the end of the night before the end of a competition that was decided "by the narrowest of margins" 15-11. Huh? No one in the Versus on-air crew had any clue what was going on, and I'm not sure it was any different on the ice.
  4. Have more stuff blow up. I like the hardest shot competition, but can't help thinking how cool it would be if there was a pane of glass covering the net. Or have watermelons as targets in the accuracy competition and turn it into a Gallagher show. Weeee!
  5. Hardest puncher competition. Invite the League's tough guys and measure the pounds-per-square-inch of their hardest jab, like they did at the Drago press conference in Rocky IV. Bad ass.
Alright, I'll stop now before I get even more ridiculous (an "accuracy competition with the Conference's most penalized players tied to the goal posts" was coming), but the point is that the Skills Competition can be a showcase of what's great about the sport - creativity, speed, action, etc. Unfortunately, very little of that was on display last night in Dallas.

You're a creative bunch - what suggestions do you have for making the Skills Competition more entertaining?


Tim said...

Maybe some sort of outdoor in-line demo scrimmage fan-friendly thing?

Role-reversal - for fun have a couple prominent forwards and goalies swap positions (and equipment) for fun.

Unless they want to toss in barrel jumping or a mullet growing contest, I don't have too much more to suggest.

Tim said...

And yeah, that 2nd suggestion is, of course, for fun. (whoops)

The Peerless said...

You read my mind on the "trick shot" thing. We've got guys trying that in competition -- Ryan Shannon's shootout atempt on Marty Turco comes to mind. Last night, a player tried to convert a "lacrosse goal." Anything would beat that lame "in the zone" stand-around. But trick shots -- only scored goals count, and the moves would be judged -- might be a jump start the stale format could use. None of these tow days are really about "hockey" as we know it. It's a way to showcase individual talent.