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Players create lasting memories at NHL All-Star Weekend

Coyne Schofield breaking barriers, Crosby MVP performance, Burns storytelling among highlights

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

SAN JOSE -- The 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend featured the story of a cheetah bite, a women's hockey player who stole the show and a host of spectacular plays by the League's top players.

Here are the top 10 moments, in chronological order, from a memorable three days in San Jose.

Video: The best sights and sounds from All-Star Week

 

1. Burns once bitten, not shy

It was no surprise that San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns, whose colorful personality and love of animals provided endless entertainment, was the star of NHL All-Star Media Day presented by adidas on Thursday. 

Burns regaled media and fans in attendance at City National Civic Auditorium with the story of how he was once bit by a cheetah during an up-close animal experience with Sharks teammates Joe Thornton and Colin White in Columbus.

Burns was wearing a cashmere sweater, which triggered the cheetah's predatory instinct. 

"This thing just snapped and bit me," Burns said.

When the zookeepers asked Burns to lift his shirt, they saw he had three tooth marks on his ribs.

"That was crazy," Burns said. "Luckily, I wasn't hurt, and we still laugh about it."

Video: Burns on playing in San Jose, being an All-Star

 

2. McDavid escapes the hot seat

Connor McDavid hoped to address the firing of Edmonton Oilers president of hockey operations and general manager Peter Chiarelli after he returned from All-Star Weekend but couldn't avoid being grilled about the state of the Oilers during Media Day

The Oilers captain reminded everyone that Edmonton (23-24-2) is three points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference and respectfully handled a question about whether he wants to play elsewhere by saying, "That's just not the case at all. I'm here to be a part of the solution."

The 22-year-old center was happy when a reporter changed the subject with a question about the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Game's 3-on-3 format.

"My God," McDavid said. "I was going to get off the seat it was so hot."

 

3. NHL Puck and Player Tracking technology unveiled 

After NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Friday the League's plan to deploy Puck and Player Tracking technology in all 31 NHL arenas at some point during the 2019-20 season, viewers got a small taste of the new stream of data it will produce during telecasts of the 2019 SAP NHL All-Star Skills on Friday and the All-Star Game at SAP Center on Saturday.

The NHL Puck and Player tracking technology will include 14-16 antennae installed in the arena rafters, four cameras to support the tracking functionality, one sensor placed on the shoulder pads of every player on each team and 40 pucks manufactured with a sensor inside for each game.

In addition to featuring some of the data during its main TV broadcast of the All-Star Game, NBC showcased much more of it in a second-screen digital stream on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

"I think one of the things we have the opportunity to do is do different things on different platforms," said Mark Lazarus, chairman off NBCUniversal Broadcast, Cable, Sports and News. "We can do a certain measure of it on the large linear screen and we also want to make sure we don't obliterate the experience that our avid fans have."

 

4. Gritty crowned fastest mascot 

Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty made a successful All-Star Weekend debut by defeating Sharks mascot S.J. Sharkie in a demonstration of the Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater competition. 

As the host mascot, S.J. Sharkie went first and fell at the final blue line before sliding across the red line to complete his lap.

Gritty topped him by riding his stick, Tiger Williams style, before falling sideways across the finish line.

Video: Gritty, S.J. Sharkie show off speed to kick off night

 

5. Coyne Schofield speeds through barrier 

Kendall Coyne Schofield not only became the first female to participate in an All-Star Skills event, the U.S. Women's National Team forward outshone even McDavid in the Fastest Skater competition. 

McDavid won the Fastest Skater for the third straight year with a time of 13.378, but Coyne Schofield wowed the crowd with her time of 14.376. That was faster than Clayton Keller of the Arizona Coyotes at 14.526.

Coyne Schofield was a late replacement in the event for Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon, who was unable to participate because of a bruised left foot. The 26-year-old made the most of her opportunity and potentially opened the door for more women to compete in future All-Star Skills.

"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.

Coyne Schofield, U.S. National Team teammate Brianna Decker, and Renata Fast and Rebecca Johnston of Canada's National Team, were invited to the All-Star Game to demonstrate events at the All-Star Skills. The four women received a standing ovation when they were introduced during the All-Star Game and were surprised by an announcement that the NHL would donate $25,000 in each of their names to charities or hockey programs of their choice.  

Video: Fastest Skater: Coyne Schofield sets the pace

 

6. Matthews pays tribute to Marleau

Forward Patrick Marleau, who played 19 seasons for the Sharks before signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs as an unrestricted free agent July 2, 2017, remains beloved in San Jose. Toronto teammate Auston Matthews reminded everyone of that when he shed his Maple Leafs sweater during the Honda NHL Accuracy Shooting competition to reveal a Marleau jersey.

It was a small gesture by Matthews to honor Marleau, who has taken him under his wing the past two seasons in Toronto. The San Jose fans loved it, cheering loudly. 

"It was amazing," Matthews said. "I wasn't expecting that. It's just a testament to how much of legend he is here."

Matthews had the jersey signed by Sharks all-stars Erik Karlsson, Joe Pavelski and Burns and plans to auction it off to benefit the MLSE Foundation.

 Video: Accuracy Shooting: Matthews reveals Marleau jersey

 

7. Karlsson scores on a breakaway

The three Sharks' All-Star Game experience was briefer than they hoped because the Pacific Division lost 10-4 to the Central Division in their first game. 

Karlsson provided one of the highlights when he scored a breakaway at 4:52 of the first period to cut the Central's lead to 2-1. A poke check by Pacific goalie John Gibson on Mikko Rantanen pushed the puck ahead to Karlsson, who moved in alone on Central goalie Pekka Rinne and fired the puck between his pads to delight the many Sharks fans in attendance.

"It's been a while since I scored, so I was happy about that," Karlsson said. "But it was fun. Obviously, it didn't go as well as we planned, but I always enjoy these things and it's nice to be around guys that you usually compete against and be in an environment like this."

Karlsson had two of the Pacific's four goals. Burns also scored and Pavelski had two assists.

Video: CEN@PAC: Karlsson goes five-hole on breakaway

 

8. Tavares and Stamkos reunite 

It was like old times for Maple Leafs forward John Tavares and Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos when they teamed on a spectacular Stamkos goal during the Atlantic Division's 7-4 loss to the Metropolitan Division. 

Once childhood linemates on the Toronto Blues summer league team coached by Stamkos' father Chris, Tavares and Stamkos showed they still have some chemistry.

Tavares drew all three Metropolitan Division skaters to him when he carried the puck into the offensive zone and drifted into the right circle before feeding Stamkos alone in front. To avoid a poke check attempt by Metropolitan goalie Henrik Lundqvist, Stamkos put his stick and the puck between his own legs and slid it around Lundqvist's left pad to tie the game at 2-2 with 3:13 left in the first period.

"Pretty nice move by him," Tavares said. "He said he blacked out."

Video: MET@ATL: Stamkos goes between his legs for great goal

 

9. Holtby's revenge

Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov twice used his no-shot move to beat Braden Holtby between the pads for goals last season, including in the 2018 All-Star Game, and the Washington Capitals goalie was determined not to let him do it again. So when Kucherov raced in on a breakaway in the second period Saturday, Holtby made sure to close the hole between his legs.

Kucherov slowed and flipped an off-speed shot that Holtby shrugged away with his blocker to keep the Metropolitan Division and Atlantic Division tied 4-4.

"He wasn't going to score five hole," Holtby said

Holtby deployed a similar strategy against Kucherov in the Ticketmaster NHL Save Streak competition in the All-Star Skills. 

"I just covered the five hole," he said. "I didn't care what else he did. I think he just shot blocker or something. I didn't even move."

Video: MET@ATL: Holtby shrugs off Kucherov's breakaway bid

 

10. Crosby recovers to win MVP

After missing the All-Star Skills because he was ill, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby recovered in time to play in the All-Star Game and was voted the most valuable player by the fans after getting eight points (four goals, four assists) in two games. Crosby won the MVP for the first time in his four All-Star Game appearances and became the sixth player in NHL history to win the All-Star Game MVP and the Hart and Conn Smythe trophies, joining Mario Lemieux, Jean Beliveau, Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr and Joe Sakic.

The 31-year-old had two goals and an assist in the Metropolitan Division's first game against the Atlantic Division and two goals and three assists in a 10-5 win against the Central in the final.

"Maybe he's still sick," Penguins defenseman Kris Letang said. "He could have had like 10 goals tonight, I guess. I don't know. But that's how special he is."

Video: MET@CEN: Crosby crowned 2019 NHL All-Star MVP

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