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Captains assign All-Star Skills roles

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers

COLUMBUS -- Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews felt a bit like an executive as he walked into a hotel conference room Saturday morning.

Confronted with a setup with six chairs and a television monitor showing what was essentially a draft board synched to the two laptop computers sitting on the side-by-side folding tables, Toews mustered a quick quip.

"In the war room, eh," he said.

Sort of, yeah.

Toews and his alternate captains, Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks and Rick Nash of the new York Rangers, sat across from Columbus Blue jackets forward Nick Foligno and his alternate captains, Chicago's Patrick Kane and Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings, on Saturday morning to select their lineups for the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition which will take place Saturday night at Nationwide Arena (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

The meeting was delayed because the arrival of Foligno, who lives nearby, was thrown off by downtown traffic caused by the All-Star 5K race on the city's streets.

"Who puts a 5K in downtown," an exasperated Foligno said as he raced into the room.

"They didn't put it there so you could run in it," Toews chirped back. "You could have drove around it."

The laughs continued as the captains went about selecting the players to compete in the respective competitions. Members of the NHL's Hockey Operations Department were on hand to answer any questions about the various rules for each competition, but for the most part the captains and alternates were on their own to figure out where each player would be slotted. It was a sign of how well they know each other.

They talked about right-handed vs. left-handed shots, hands, skating speed, and the various other skills of other players. They weren't exactly executives trying to build a team, but they could have passed for scouts.

"Pretty cool to play GM and coach for a day," Foligno said. "I was laughing at these guys, they knew lefty and righty stuff. I'm like, is this common knowledge, should I know every player in the League like this? It is pretty amazing what guys pick up on on each other."

Team Toews selected forwards Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars, Mike Hoffman of the Ottawa Senators,Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues and defenseman Aaron Ekblad of the Florida Panthers for the Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater competition. Team Foligno responded with four forwards: Phil Kessel of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jonathan Drouin of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Jiri Sekac of the Montreal Canadiens and Zemgus Girgensons of the Buffalo Sabres.

Team Toews was quick on the selections for the Honda NHL Breakaway Challenge, going with forwards Vladimir Tarasenko of the Blues, Jakub Voracek of the Philadelphia Flyers and Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames. Chicago's Corey Crawford was selected as the goalie. Team Foligno went with forwards Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, Philadelphia's Claude Giroux, Ryan Johansen of the Blue Jackets and Blues goalie Brian Elliott.

Team Toews also selected Tarasenko to participate in the Gatorade NHL Skills Challenge Relay. They didn't mind making him work harder than some others.

"That's why we took the young guys," Getzlaf said.

Team Toews went with an all-defensemen rotation of Chicago's Brent Seabrook, Ekblad, Justin Faulk of the Carolina Hurricanes and the obvious choice of Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators for the Amp NHL Hardest Shot competition. Team Foligno countered with Ovechkin, San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns, Tampa Bay lightning forward Steven Stamkos and Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien.

The Weber-Byfuglien showdown has the potential to be the best of the night.

Getzlaf, Nash and Toews put themselves in the DraftKings NHL Accuracy Shooting competition along with New York islanders forward John Tavares, Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron and New Jersey Devils forward Patrik Elias. Foligno and Kane put themselves in that one too, along with Vancouver Canucks forward Radim Vrbata, forward Bobby Ryan of the Ottawa Senators, forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles' forward Anze Kopitar.

That's the one where they stand in place and try to hit the targets. That's the easy one.

"Had to find something," Toews said jokingly.

"Yep, no moving," Foligno said.

Team Toews was already more than halfway finished with its selections when Foligno looked up from his computer and said, "What, are guys already done?"

"Well, some of us came at 9:30, some of us ran a 5K," Getzlaf responded.

Doughty made his first appearance on the draft board in the Skills Challenge Relay. Team Foligno selected Stamkos for the one-timer part of the Skills Challenge Relay.

"You're going to use Stammer, for one-timers," Getzlaf said.

"Yeah, terrible one-timer, we're giving that one to you guys," Foligno responded, obviously joking.

As Team Foligno was still working on the Skills Challenge Relay participants, Team Toews had moved on to the Discover NHL Shootout competition. Getzlaf was not about to let Toews get away with sitting this one out, particularly because there are spots where they can get two points for a goal instead of one.

"Put yourself in there," Getzlaf said. "You're shooting twice with the money pucks."

Toews will only go once, but Seguin, Nash and Tavares are going twice for Team Toews.

Kane, Giroux, Stamkos, Kopitar, Johansen and Vrbata were chose as Team Foligno's initial Discover bonus-puck shooters. Foligno is the only player on his team going twice in the shootout competition.

All the goalies will be in the shootout competition.

"That was fun," Foligno said. "I think we've got a pretty good team."

Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater™

Team Foligno Team Toews

Phil Kessel, TOR Tyler Seguin, DAL

Jonathan Drouin, TB Mike Hoffman, OTT

Jiri Sekac, MTLAaron Ekblad, FLA

Zemgus Girgensons, BUF Vladimir Tarasenko, STL

Event description: Four players from each team will test their speed, facing off against an opponent in a two-skater race. The race track is the entire outside border of the ice. Timing devices will record each skater to determine who is the fastest. If a race ends in a tie, each of the teams will be awarded one point. If, at the completion of the event, the skaters who tied have the fastest overall time, the skaters will race again to determine which team receives the bonus point. Five team points are available. The winner of each match-up scores one point; the team with the fastest skater scores one bonus point.

Honda NHL Breakaway Challenge™

Team Foligno Team Toews

Alex Ovechkin, WSH Vladimir Tarasenko, STL

Claude Giroux, PHI Jakub Voracek, PHI

Ryan Johansen, CBJ Johnny Gaudreau, CGY

Brian Elliott, STL (goaltender) Corey Crawford, CHI (goaltender)

Event description: A test of creativity a player can insert into a breakaway, three shooters and one goaltender from each team will participate. Columbus' Ryan Johansen was selected by fans to participate in this event in an online vote. Each skater will attempt three shots. NHL penalty shot rules do not apply. Fans in-arena and watching on television will be able to vote for their favorite player on Twitter by casting their vote using the hashtag that corresponds to the player of their choice. The shooter with the highest fan vote will score one point for his team.

DraftKings NHL Accuracy Shooting™

Team Foligno Team Toews

Bobby Ryan, OTT Ryan Getzlaf, ANA

Nick Foligno, CBJ Patrice Bergeron, BOS

Radim Vrbata, VAN John Tavares, NYI

Patrick Kane, CHI Jonathan Toews, CHI

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, EDM (passer) Rick Nash, NYR (passer)

Anze Kopitar, LAK (passer) Patrik Elias, NJ (passer)

Event description: Four players from each team will compete, with two additional players serving as passers. This event will consist of four head-to-head match-ups, one shooter from each team per round. The goal is to hit four 15-inch diameter targets located in each corner of the net. The teams will be situated at opposite ends of the rink, and will alternate shot attempts. The first shooter to hit all four targets wins. Five team points are available. The winner of each match-up scores one point; the player who hits all four targets in the fastest time scores the bonus point.

Gatorade NHL Skills Challenge Relay™

Team Foligno Team Toews

Relay 1 Relay 1

Drew Doughty, LAK (one-timer RH) Shea Weber, NSH (one-timer RH)

Ryan Johansen, CBJ (one-timer RH) Justin Faulk, CAR (one-timer RH)

Steven Stamkos, TBL (one-timer RH) Tyler Seguin, DAL (one-timer RH)

Brent Burns, SJS (one-time passer) Ryan Getzlaf, ANA (one-time passer)

Anze Kopitar, LAK (mini net passer) John Tavares, NYI (mini net passer)

Kevin Shattenkirk, STL (puck control) Johnny Gaudreau, CGY (puck control)

Patrick Kane, CHI (stick handling) Mike Hoffman, OTT (stick handling)

Carey Price, MTL (goalie goals) Jaroslav Halak, NYI (goalie goals)

Relay 2 Relay 2

Zemgus Girgensons, BUF (one-timer LH) Mark Giordano, CGY (one-timer LH)

Duncan Keith, CHI (one-timer LH) Ryan Suter, MIN (one-timer LH)

Nick Foligno, CBJ (one-timer LH) Jakub Voracek, PHI (one-timer LH)

Jiri Sekac, MTL (one-time passer) Patrice Bergeron, BOS (one-time passer)

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, EDM (mini net passer) Tyler Johnson, TBL (mini net passer)

Drew Doughty, LAK (puck control) Vladimir Tarasenko, STL (puck control)

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI (stick handling) Filip Forsberg, NSH (stick handling)

Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT (goalie goals) Roberto Luongo, FLA (goalie goals)

Event description: This timed relay event – involving 14 skaters and one goalie from each team – will consist of five challenges: One-Timers, with three shooters and one passer per team; Passing, with one passer per team; Puck Control, with one skater per team; Stick-Handling, with one skater per team; and Goalie Goals, with one goalie per team. Each challenge must be completed before moving on to the next one. The goal is to finish all five challenges faster than the opponent. Three team points are available. The team with the fastest time in each heat scores one point; the team with the fastest overall time scores one bonus point.

AMP NHL Hardest Shot™

Team Foligno Team Toews

Alex Ovechkin, WSH Brent Seabrook, CHI

Brent Burns, SJS Aaron Ekblad, FLA

Steven Stamkos, TBL Justin Faulk, CAR

Dustin Byfuglien, WPG Shea Weber, NSH

Event description: Four shooters from each team will test their slap shot skill in a head-to-head match-up. Each player will attempt two shots, with teams alternating after each player. One puck will be placed 30 feet from the center of the net. Each shot will be calculated in miles per hour (mph), with the highest speed of their two shots recorded. Five team points are available. The winner of each match-up scores one point; the team with the player who has the fastest speed scores one bonus point.

Discover NHL Shootout™

Team Foligno Team Toews

Round 1 Round 1

Alex Ovechkin, WSH Patrice Bergeron, BOS

Kevin Shattenkirk, STL Mike Hoffman, OTT

Patrick Kane, CHI Tyler Seguin, DAL

Dustin Byfuglien, WPG Aaron Ekblad, FLA

Zemgus Girgensons, BUF Shea Weber, NSH

Nick Foligno, CBJ Vladimir Tarasenko, STL

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, EDM Ryan Suter, MIN

Brian Elliott, STL (goaltender) Jaroslav Halak, NYI (goaltender)

Round 2 Round 2

Jonathan Drouin, TB Justin Faulk, CAR

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI Johnny Gaudreau, CGY

Brent Burns, SJS John Tavares, NYI

Jiri Sekac, MTL Brent Seabrook, CHI

Duncan Keith, CHI Patrik Elias, NJD

Anze Kopitar, LAK Rick Nash, NYR

Radim Vrbata, VAN Mark Giordano, CGY

Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT (goaltender) Roberto Luongo, FLA (goaltender)

Round 3 Round 3

Bobby Ryan, OTT Ryan Getzlaf, ANA

Phil Kessel, TOR John Tavares, NYI

Ryan Johansen, CBJ Jonathan Toews, CHI

Drew Doughty, LAK Filip Forsberg, NSH

Steven Stamkos, TBL Tyler Seguin, DAL

Claude Giroux, PHI Jakub Voracek, PHI

Nick Foligno, CBJ Rick Nash, NYR

Carey Price, MTL (goaltender) Corey Crawford, CHI (goaltender)

Event description: All players will participate in this three-round shootout. During each two-minute round, seven skaters and one goalie from each team will take the ice. The goalies will take their place in net, and the skaters will line up in the offensive zone, facing their opposing goalie. Each player is given 10 seconds to take a shot. Teams will alternate after each shot until the two-minute clock runs down. Every third puck will be a Discover card puck, which is worth more points. Each scoring attempt is officiated following NHL shootout rules. Points available: one point for every goal scored; two points for every goal scored with a Discover card puck.

Author: Dan Rosen | Senior Writer

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