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NHL Winners and Losers: All-Star Edition

Mike Stephens takes a look at the winners and losers from the past week in the NHL, with an emphasis on the fun and games in Vegas.
Trevor Zegras

Each week, the NHL brings us its winners and its losers. 

It's my job to parse through the action and determine who is who. 

So, without further adieu, let's dive into an All-Star Weekend edition of NHL Winners and Losers, recounting the best and worst of the most recent week in the NHL:

Winner: Hockey Fans Who Get to Watch Trevor Zegras

Trevor Zegras wasn't even an All-Star this year. The kid was shipped to Vegas via special invitation to participate in one event and one event only: the breakaway challenge. 

And, boy, did he deliver. 

Zegras' blindfolded, gravity-defying magic move was perhaps the greatest hockey goal ever scored. I'm not even kidding. Watch the tape again and the mind struggles to comprehend it as being real. That it came with Captain America in net -- spoiler alert for those who haven't watched Marvel's The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, although I guess he's U.S. Agent now -- is just gravy. 

Zegras not only gave the All-Star Game its most viral moment since the John Scott Saga, but he also ensured that no one ever takes anything John Tortorella says seriously ever again. 

Bad for the game? How about YOU'RE bad for the bad, John!  

We, as hockey fans, are blessed. 

Zegras is 20 years old. He can't even legally buy a drink in the United States, although that won't stop Twitter users from trying to catch him in the act, and has at least another 15 years ahead of him if he plays his cards right. 

For us, that means another decade and a half of watching this kid get better and better and grow more confident to try newer, crazier moves for our entertainment. How can you not love that? 

Watching Trevor Zegras play hockey makes the Dead Puck Era seem like a completely different sport. And I love it with all my heart. 

Loser: The Entire Chicago Blackhawks Organization

Rocky Wirtz's tirade against Mark Lazerus and Phillip Thompson last Wednesday when asked to more or less list all the good work he's been doing to make the Blackhawks organization a safer place, was a black mark on the league. Wirtz didn't just take a PR slam dunk that he had months to prepare for and spectacularly botch it. He blew it. He absolutely blew it.

One of the worst parts of the whole ordeal, in fact, is that the question wasn't even directed at Rocky. Lazerus asked Danny Wirtz before Rocky grabbed the spotlight, seemingly because the elder Wirtz was so fed up with people talking about his organization engineering the worst sexual assault coverup in league history right under his nose.

This was not the "emotional outburst" Gary Bettman tried to characterize it prior to the All-Star Game. This was a travesty to the game.

Winner: Anyone Who Partied with Peter DeBoer in Vegas 

"I'll be honest, I'm a little hungover today." - Peter DeBoer.

*ESPN 30 for 30 voice* 

What if I told you that the best quote from the All-Star Game didn't come on the ice? 

I don't know anything about Peter DeBoer personally. I've never met him. I've never spoken with him. I've never even been in a scrum with him. But from the little I've seen of the Vegas bench boss, the guy doesn't strike me as the hard-partying type. He's one of those coaches I picture crushing tape on his off-nights while sipping an ice-cold glass of two-percent milk. Or maybe he'll even splurge for whole. You know, as a treat. 

But DeBoer apparently has a wild side to him that came out in full force on All-Star Weekend -- so much so that the coach admitted in his media availability on Sunday afternoon to feeling the effects of his fun from the night before. 

And isn't that refreshing?

Approximately 100 percent of the people -- players and media alike -- who make the trip to the NHL's marquee mid-season event end up leaving hungover. Don't check the math on that. It's true. Trust me. The party stories are legendary if you're lucky enough to hear them, with the All-Star Game more or less functioning as the adult version of the pizza party your second-grade teacher would throw the day before winter break.  

DeBoer is just one of the first attendees to ever offer a peek behind the curtain. And god bless him for it. We're now one step closer to the "All-Star Weekend Hangover Power Rankings" piece I've been dying to write since I broke into this business.  

Loser: Fantasy Owners of Any New York Rangers Player

This one may or may not be a little personal for me. 

The New York Rangers last played on Feb. 1st, six days ago at the time of writing. Their next game is scheduled to take place at Madison Square Garden against the Boston Bruins on Feb. 15. 

That is a whopping 14 days between games -- 10 if you exclude the All-Star break that began this past Thursday and applied to all teams. 

Now, it's great that the Rangers are getting some much-needed time off in the middle of a season that featured daily COVID battles and a compressed schedule. But for fantasy owners reliant upon a few of their players -- *cough* Igor Shesterkin is singlehandedly keeping my team alive *cough* -- this is a disaster of epic proportions. 

I need my points, Igor. And you can't deliver them to me if you're not playing. I'm on dangerously thin ice as it is with a 7-8-0 record that lands me fifth in my eight-team league. You were supposed to be my savior, man! 

It could be worse, I guess. At least I'm not Steve Dangle, who didn't realize Week 16 consists of two weeks to account for the All-Star break and therefore blew all four of his player adds last Monday. 

Can you imagine doing that? I certainly can't. But it's a good thing no one wrote about it in a weekly column of theirs for the world to see. That would be so embarrassing! 


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