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Canadian Tire NHL Junior Skills starts Friday @NHLdotcom
In September, the National Hockey League and Canadian Tire Hockey School announced they would undertake the search for Canada's most skilled youth hockey player, hatching the Canadian Tire NHL Junior Skills Competition. Through a series of 15 regional competitions, Canadian youth players are being pared down to the best of the best in what will eventually lead to the Canadian Tire NHL Junior Skills National Championship in Ottawa during this season's 2012 NHL All-Star Game weekend.

It all starts Friday, as the first event will be held in Vancouver with NHL Alums Dave Babych, Cliff Ronning, Garry Valk and Garth Butcher on hand to participate in the festivities and witness the competition.

The event seeks to find the most skilled player in Canada between the ages of 7 and 12, as they compete in four challenges, which have been patterned after the annual NHL All-Star Skills Competition. Players will compete in fastest skater, shooting accuracy, puck control and passing accuracy. Regional winners as well as 10 randomly selected wild card winners will advance to the final competition at All-Star Weekend, as well as get to attend the 2012 NHL All-Star Skills Competition and the 2012 NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa's Scotiabank Place.

The competition will have both male and female winners in three age groups.

"I'm looking forward to seeing fellow hockey school members competing in and enjoying these events," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said last month. "I know the thrill of competing, winning and the camaraderie in competitions like the NHL All-Star Skills Competition, and I'm excited that Canadian Tire and the NHL can bring this experience to Canada's minor hockey players."

Toews is a founding member of the Canadian Tire Hockey School.

In total, 24 NHL alums will participate at the various regional events, which are scheduled to be held through the middle of December in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, SK, Winnipeg, Waterloo, ON, St. Catharines, ON, Barrie, ON, Brampton, ON, Oshawa, ON, Ottawa, Quebec City, Montreal, Halifax, NS, and St. John's, NL.

NHL alums scheduled to appear include Dave Babych, Cliff Ronning, Garry Valk, Garth Butcher, Marty McSorely, Grant Fuhr, Joel Otto, Charlie Simmer, Mike Keane, Wayne Babych, Thomas Steen, Ray Neufeld, Jeff O'Neill, Todd Warriner, Tom Fergus, Marcel Dionne, Craig Muni, Dave Ellett, Billy Smith, Steve Shutt, Dale Hawerchuk, Jay Wells, Laurie Boschman and Rick Middleton.

Following this Friday's kickoff event, regional qualifiers conclude in St. John's on Dec. 16. The 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend will be held Jan. 29-30, 2012.

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