Matt Duchene Eligible for ASG Breakaway Competition


Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene is eligible to be voted into the breakaway challenge at the 2016 NHL All Star Game. Vote #NHLBreakawayDuchene.

By now you’re probably aware that the NHL All Star weekend format has been changed. The NHL first of all is organizing the teams according to division, meaning there will be four. Secondly, the four teams will play in a three-on-three format reminiscent of the new overtime rule.

Earlier the big brouhaha surrounding the All Star weekend was that fans got to vote in whichever NHL player they wanted, even if he wasn’t technically star material. Fans proceeded to vote in enforcer John Scott from the Arizona Coyotes to captain the Pacific Division. The NHL masterminded a trade to oust Scott from the festivities, but they were no match to a social media storm. Scott’s back in, even thought he’s no longer playing for the Coyotes. Or the Pacific Division. Or the NHL.

Anyway, the NHL has seemed to get a little smarter about how to work the voting process. Fans again have the chance to vote in their favorite players, this time for a chance to compete in the NHL Breakaway Challenge. However only three players are eligible for the challenge — and none of them are John Scott.

One of them is Matt Duchene, though.

The NHL Breakaway Challenge is a little more than it sounds. If we’re talking pure skill at breakaways, then there are few who can even compare to Matt Duchene. Witness:

Matt Duchene on a breakaway is a beautiful sight. Check out a selection from last year:

Next: Top 5 Duchene Goals form 2014-15

However, the NHL Breakaway Challenge during All Star weekend encourages “style, flair and creativity.” This results in silliness like this:

That’s not exactly the best use of Matt Duchene’s skills, but it would still be a lark to see him participate. To vote for Matt Duchene, tweet the following: #NHLBreakawayDuchene

More from Mile High Sticking

Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings and Brandon Saad of the Columbus Blue Jackets are the other two eligible players, but that wouldn’t be as much fun to see.

During the challenge each shooter gets two attempts. Usual penalty shot rules don’t apply, not do shootout rules. As you can see from the video above, really no rules apply.

At the conclusion of the Breakaway Challenge, fans get to vote for the winner via Twitter again.

The Skills Competition portion of All Star Weekend is largely heralded as the highlight event — people really just like watching their favorite players showcase their skills.

In any case, in addition to the NHL Breakaway Challenge, players participate in five other skills competitions. Fan-elected captains — in this case, yes, John Scott — select who participates in what.

One challenge is the NHL Accuracy Shooting. Goals are set up with small targets in each corner. Participant receive a pass and attempt to break the target with their shot. Duchene would be pretty good at this competition.

The Challenge Relay is a little confusing, but it allows a lot of players to participate. The skills tested are one-timers, passing, puck control, stick handling and goalie goals. Duchene would be a wizard at either puck control or stick handling.

The NHL Shootout, of course, is a challenge for a three-round shootout. Essentially this is a shooting gallery on goalies. Obviously Duchene would be great in this context as he’s one of the Colorado Avalanche’s premier shootout players.

The NHL Hardest Shot competition is usually up in the air between the Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin and Nashville Predators’ Shea Weber. This wouldn’t really be Matt Duchene’s forte.

The sixth competition is the NHL Fastest Skater. This is a timed race for speed. I do not think I need to mention that Matt Duchene, accounted one of the fastest skaters in the NHL, is a natural for this competition. Indeed, Duchene attended the All Star weekend in 2011 and won his match in this very competition.

Unfortunately, it’s Central Division captain Patrick Kane that decides who gets to participate in the Fastest Skater competition, and we all know how bad his judgement is, so… we probably shouldn’t get our hopes up.

That said, we do have power over who participates in the NHL Breakaway Challenge. Don’t forget — tweet #NHLBreakawayDuchene from now until Thursday, January 28.

Next: Roy's Blueprints for the Avalanche

The NHL All Star Skills Competition takes place on Saturday, January 30, at 5 pm MST on NBCSN. The All Star Game is on Sunday.