The NHL is adding a wrinkle to the 2020 NHL All-Star Skills Weekend.
As a part of the Honda NHL Skills Competition on January 24th in St. Louis, the NHL has created the Elite Women’s 3-on-3 game. This game will feature American and Canadian women’s professional hockey players who will be competing head-to-head in a 20-minute 3-on-3 tournament. Earlier in the week, Chris Johnston of Sportsnet and Emily Kaplan of ESPN reported about the NHL getting women’s hockey players more involved at this year’s All-Star festivities.
This tournament will be one of six events at the All-Star skills competition. It will be alongside the fastest skater, save streak, accuracy shooting, hardest shot, and another new event called shooting stars.
“The intention here is to give these elite players the forum they’ve earned and they deserve,” said Steve Mayer, NHL executive vice president and chief content officer in a press release. “It’s thrilling for us to be able to give them this moment. This is a meaningful event — it’s on national television, not only are they going to be performing and playing in front of 20,000 people in the arena, but they are also playing in front of 40 of the greatest players in the NHL. We’re so confident that they will put on a great display.”
Each team will be comprised of nine skaters and one goalie. The American All-Star team will feature forwards Kendall Coyne Schofield, Brianna Decker, Amanda Kessel, Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, Annie Pankowski, and Alex Carpenter, defensemen Kacey Bellamy and Lee Stecklein, and goalie Alex Rigsby Cavallini. 2010 Hockey Hall of Fame member Cammi Granato will coach the United States.
The Canadian All-Star team will be comprised of forwards Meghan Agosta, Melodie Daoust, Rebecca Johnston, Sarah Nurse, Marie-Philip Poulin, Natalie Spooner, and Blayre Turnbull, defensemen Renata Fast and Laura Fortino, and goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens. 2018 Hockey Hall of Fame member Jayna Hefford will coach Team Canada. Combined these players have won 39 and 109 World Championship medals.
The players were selected by the NHL in consultation with a committee that included Cassie Campbell-Pascall, Granato, Angela Ruggiero and Hayley Wickenheiser. The game will also be officiated by a team of women, with referees Kelly Cooke and Katie Guay and linesmen Kendall Hanley and Kirsten Welsh.
Participation by women at the NHL All-Star Weekend is nothing new. However, it was Coyne Schofield and Decker who took it to a whole new level during the 2019 NHL All-Star Weekend in San Jose. Coyne Schofield competed in the fastest skater competition. While demonstrating the target drill skill, Decker had the best time. While the NHL did not recognize it, CCM stepped in and gave Decker $25,000 that she donated to a charity of hers benefiting women’s hockey.
The NHL will also donate $100,00 to certain girl’s hockey organizations on behalf of the American and Canadian All-Stars.