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Elias Pettersson wins Hardest Shot event at NHL All-Star Skills Competition

Elias Pettersson blasted the puck 103.2 mph, the second-hardest shot ever by a forward in the event.
Vancouver Canucks' star Elias Pettersson takes a 103.2 mph slap shot to win the Hardest Shot event at the 2023 NHL All-Star Skills Competition.

Elias Pettersson had the hardest shot of the night at the 2023 NHL All-Star Skills Competition but you might have missed it if you were watching the event in Canada.

Sportsnet's broadcast of the entire All-Star Skills Competition was a mess, but the production of the Hardest Shot event was a debacle. Pettersson was first to shoot and hit 100.1 mph on his first shot according to the Sportsnet broadcast — according to the announcement in the arena, it was actually 100.8 mph.

Instead of focusing on Pettersson during the event, the broadcast inexplicably cut to a live interview with Erik Karlsson, who expressed surprise that Pettersson could shoot the puck over 100 mph, as if he didn't do exactly that in his last trip to the All-Star Game

Then the Sportsnet broadcast got Pettersson's second shot entirely wrong, reporting it as 100.5 mph. He actually blasted the puck 103.2 mph, as the ESPN broadcast got right.

That's even harder than his 102.4 mph from 2020, even if it's still the second-hardest shot ever by a forward at the event, just behind a 103.9 mph shot from Steven Stamkos in 2016.

Pettersson's 103.2 mph shot was the mark to beat but the Sportsnet broadcast seemingly had no idea. There was no leaderboard on the screen indicating how hard everyone had shot the puck and the broadcast nearly missed some of the shots entirely with some of their bizarre camera angles.

The broadcast missed an opportunity to showcase Pettersson's flawless technique, but at least the ESPN broadcast caught the winning shot in slow motion so we can admire just how much flex he got on his stick and extension on his follow-through.

Sportsnet at least caught Pettersson looking quietly pleased with his shot. That was the only reaction shot they got from Pettersson throughout the entire event. What was his response to everyone else falling short of his shot? Who knows?

Rasmus Dahlin came closest to matching Pettersson's hardest shot. A wild card who had never competed in the event before, Dahlin reached 102.3 mph with his second shot, falling just short of Pettersson's mark. 

Eventually, just Alex Ovechkin was left. Before Friday's contest, Ovechkin was the only forward to win the Hardest Shot event in the last 21 years. He won the event in 2018 with a 101.3 mph slap shot but there was a chance he could match Pettersson if everything went just right.

Instead, Ovechkin sent his first shot off both posts.

Would Ovechkin's shot have been hard enough to win? Maybe not, but the puck has to go in the net for a score to even be recorded. Making sure he hit the net with his second shot, Ovechkin only managed 95.1 mph.

With that, Pettersson was the winner. Even if his shot was second all time among forwards to Stamkos's 103.9 mph, it was the hardest shot by a forward to actually win the event.

Again, it was nearly impossible to tell from the Sportsnet broadcast, which failed to show Pettersson's reaction to winning the event, with the camera lingering on a shot of Ovechkin's back. In fact, they basically didn't show Pettersson at all until after a commercial break. 

At least when they did focus on Pettersson, they got the right man to interview him: Kevin Bieksa.

What should have been a triumphant moment for Canucks fans to celebrate Pettersson's victory was instead a confusing muddle. 

It was par for the course for the entire Skills Competition, which was altogether too slow-paced and confusing — if All-Star Weekend is meant for kids, it was a bust, with very little to keep kids' attention through the long breaks between events, not to mention the frequently baffling and dragging events themselves.

It's a shame because there was drama to be had. When the NHL had skaters going head-to-head in the Accuracy Shooting competition, it was legitimately thrilling, with Nazem Kadri narrowly defeating Connor McDavid in a flawless performance from both of them in one of the two semifinals.

The Hardest Shot competition is a marquee event, so Sportsnet's slipshod handling of it was disappointing. Pettersson being the first forward to win the Hardest Shot event since Ovechkin and doing it against Ovechkin himself should have been the story of the event, but Sportsnet completely whiffed on the storytelling possibilities.

Another missed storytelling opportunity? Pettersson and Bo Horvat skating in 2-on-0 during the convoluted Tendy Tandem event. The two now-former teammates got the chance to skate in together for a chance but were stopped.

Perhaps Sportsnet can be forgiven for that one. No one seemed to understand what was happening during the Tendy Tandem event.