There’s just one team that will have more representatives at the 2020 NHL All-Star Weekend than the Vancouver Canucks. While the Canucks are sending three players — Elias Pettersson, Jacob Markstrom, and Quinn Hughes — the St. Louis Blues will have four.
That’s fitting for the team hosting the event and the Blues deserve it too. They’re currently first in the Western Conference by a wide margin and are just one point behind the Washington Capitals for first in the entire NHL.
If you expand beyond just the team, however, Vancouver is tied with St. Louis for the most representatives. That’s because Pettersson, Markstrom, and Hughes will be joined by the Vancouver Police Department’s own Meghan Agosta.
The 32-year-old Agosta has represented Canada at four Olympic Games and eight World Championships and is second all-time in goals and fifth all-time in points at the Olympics, with 17 goals and 28 points in 20 games. Her signature performance came at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, when her 9 goals and 15 points in 5 games led the tournament in scoring and led Canada to the gold medal.
Now Agosta will represent Canada once again, albeit on a slightly different stage. And, in a way, she’ll be representing all of women’s hockey.
What an amazing honour and privilege it is to be heading to St. Louis for the @nhl All-Star Weekend. What a great way to continue growing the game and paving the way for the younger generations. Don’t forget to tune in January 24th during the #NHLAllStar skills competition to watch Canada and USA compete in the Elite Women’s 3 on 3 game presented by @adidas
Agosta, along with 19 other female hockey players, will face off at the All-Star Skills Competition, showing off their skills in a Canada vs USA 3-on-3 game. It’s an opportunity to showcase the women’s game in a different venue, at a time when women’s hockey is at a crossroads, with over 200 players boycotting professional hockey this season until their demands for appropriate resources and sustainable financing are met.
It’s not just a showcase for the women, of course; the 3-on-3 game will also attract more attention to the NHL All-Star Game, which is in a constant battle to stay relevant, as stars like Alex Ovechkin have refrained from attending and some hockey fans complain about the low intensity of the hockey itself.
Four women participated in last year’s All-Star Skills Competition and established that their skills are right up there with the best in the NHL. Kendall Coyne-Schofield became the first woman to officially participate in the Skills Competition, taking the place of Nathan Mackinnon in the Fastest Skater competition. Her time of 14.346 seconds landed her 7th out of 8 participants, ahead of Clayton Keller.
Meanwhile, Rebecca Johnston, Renata Fast, and Brianna Decker participated in the Skills Competition by demonstrating the events before the NHL players. Decker made headlines when her run through the passing event was timed as three seconds faster than Leon Draisaitl, who won the event.
The NHL didn’t recognize Decker’s time — and refused to pay her the $25,000 that the winner of each event receives — but CCM stepped up to #PayDecker in the wake of a social media campaign. By bringing women into the Skills Competition in their own separate event, the NHL likely hopes to avoid a similar controversy this year, though some raised concerns on social media that the players won’t be paid for their participation.
The one event at the Skills Competition where women will compete alongside the men is a new event introduced this year: the Shooting Stars event. One player each from the Canadian and American teams, selected by social media vote, will participate in the event, along with eight NHL All-Stars.
In the Shooting Stars event, players will be positioned in the stands, 30 feet above the iice surface, where they will shoot pucks at a variety of targets on the ice, with different point values for each target. It seems like an event inspired by trick shot YouTubers like Dude Perfect, and it seems like it has more potential for entertainment than some of the other oddball skills competition events the NHL has tried in the past.
Will Agosta get picked to participate in the Shooting Stars event? Since it’s a social media vote, perhaps the Vancouver contingent that showed up in force a couple years ago to vote Brock Boeser as All-Star MVP will show up again. At the very least, it will be a nice opportunity for her to focus on hockey for a weekend; while she’s taken time off from hockey to pursue her career with the Vancouver PD, she still has eyes on playing in the Beijing Olympics in 2022.