Great Rangers’ performances at NHL All-Star Skills Competition
On Friday night, this year’s NHL All-Stars took to the ice at Scotiabank Arena, where they participated in the annual skills competition. Although Vincent Trocheck is playing in the All-Star Game on Saturday, netminder Igor Shesterkin was the only member of the New York Rangers to see the ice in an event, facing Mathew Barzal in the one-on-one competition.
Since its introduction in 1990, many Rangers players have participated in various skills competition events like the hardest shot, shooting accuracy, breakaway challenge, and one of the marque events, the fastest skater.
Over the past 68 years, more than 170 Rangers skaters have been selected for the NHL All-Star Game. However, very few have participated in the skills competition, let alone won an event. Today, we look back at the players in the record books while wearing a New York sweater.
NHL All-Star Skills: New York Rangers
1990 – Fastest Skater – Mike Gartner
At the first NHL All-Star Skills Competition held at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, PA, Mike Gartner earned the honor of being the league’s fastest skater by recording a top speed of 28.1 mph. Unfortunately, there is no data to showcase how long it took him to complete his lap since the NHL didn’t track the event with time intervals until 1993.
1992 – Goalie Competition – Mike Richter
During his first NHL All-Star Game appearance at 25 in 1992, Mike Richter became the third netminder to win the Goalie Competition, making 23 saves on 25 shots. As one of the elite netminders of his generation, he edged Hall of Famers Patrick Roy and Ed Belfour, plus Tim Cheveldae, Don Beaupre, and Kirk McLean, to win the event.
1992 – Breakaway Relay – Mike Richter and Don Beaupre (shared)
After being introduced in 1991, with Mike Vernon winning the inaugural competition, Richter and Beaupre combined to give up the fewest goals during the second-ever breakaway relay event. Even though other tandems would win the breakaway relay in the following years, this duo became the first. Richter remains the only goalie in franchise history to win the event.
1993 – Fastest Skater – Mike Gartner
In the 1990s, Gartner was considered one of the fastest skaters in the NHL, participating in the fastest skater event in several All-Star Games. In 1993, he became the first player to win the competition twice, recording a time of 13.510 seconds.
Eventually, as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1996, he set the event’s record for the quickest time at 13.386, a mark that stood until Dylan Larkin broke it in 2016 with 13.172 seconds.
1996 – Shooting Accuracy – Mark Messier
When the shooting accuracy event debuted in 1990, Ray Bourque, a defenseman, won the first competition. In the following year, Mark Messier, a member of the Edmonton Oilers at the time, won the event.
As history will showcase, Bourque dominated this event during the decade, losing out to Messier at the 1996 All-Star skills competition when The Moose went 4-for-4. Messier remains only one of three skaters to win the event more than once.
2000 – Goalie Competition – Mike Richter
After his goalie competition win in 1992 and All-Star Game MVP award in 1994, Richter, who was 33, made his third and final appearance at an All-Star Game when he skated at the 2000 event. Although he made only 16 saves in that year’s competition, he again only gave up two goals to become the fourth goalie to win the event twice. Furthermore, the victory propelled Richter to the top of the Rangers All-Stars Skill Competition wins list, becoming the only skater with three wins.
2012 – Fastest Skater – Carl Hagelin
After some success at the skills competition in the 1990s, the Rangers didn’t win another event until 2012, when 23-year-old Carl Hagelin became the fastest skater. Not only did his win give the Rangers two fastest skater titles, Hagelin broke Gartner’s record with an impressive 13.218 lap.
Even though his record would only last a few seasons, New York skaters have held the top mark at this particular event twice.
2019 – Save Streak – Henrik Lundqvist
Since most of the NHL All-Star Game Skills Competitions are for the players, the league often has to devise creative ways to keep the goalies involved. In 2018, they introduced the Save Streak event, with the netminder winning by making the most consecutive saves.
After Marc-Andre Fleury won the first Save Streak competition, recent Hall of Fame inductee Henrik Lundqvist won the second event in 2019 with 12 straight saves, two off the record set by Fleury.
Note: Some historical data via NHL Records