Sportsnet.ca — The hardest shots from the recent NHL all-star weekend in Atlanta were the ones directed at the event by Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne on Friday.
Speaking on HockeyCentral@Noon, Dionne blasted the league’s skills competition that was held Jan. 26, the night before the game in Atlanta. Dionne reserved his harshest comments for the breakaway challenge.
“I thought it was a sad day,” the fifth-highest scorer in league history told hosts Darren Millard and Nick Kypreos. “I don’t care what they say, it was a sad day for hockey in general.
“I was embarrassed.”
The shootout challenge was introduced this year and was hoped to emulate the dunk contest held annually at the National Basketball Association’s all-star festivities. Rather than merely score, a panel judged shooters on their creativity and technique. Washington Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin won the event, but most players had difficulty coming up with anything outside of the ordinary.
“They made fools of themselves,” Dionne said. “(The event) should be scrapped altogether. Whoever thought of that should be fired.”
Dionne said the event merely panders to Americans, to which it was broadcast live by Versus. He said what works in the NBA doesn’t translate to the ice.
“They probably think in the South that hockey’s like mini-basketball or something,” he said. “We can’t jump up and down and put it in the hoop.
“Obviously there’s guys that can do a lot of little tricks with the puck but it’s never in a situation where you’re on a breakaway … with someone chasing you.”
Dionne had harsh words for the NHL’s continued attempts to court the U.S. audience.
“We missed the boat 20 years, 25 years ago,” he said, “Keep on trying all you want, but you better go to Mexico, you better go overseas in Europe. It ain’t happening (in the U.S.).