Over this past weekend, the best (healthy) players (that respect the game) were together in Ottawa to put on a display of skill, finesse and passion. Some of the game's veteran gentlemen were joined by some of the incredible young talent from around the league, and fans weren't disappointed.
There was a lot that went on over the weekend. From what might be the first trade of what could shape up to be a busy four weeks for general managers to unbelievable injury news from the game's best player, we learned a lot about the state of the NHL this weekend.
Let's look at 15 things we learned since the last regular-season game was played.
What this means for his future, and the future relationship between Crosby, his agent and the Penguins is a long way down the road. But the thought that medical staffs all over North America could miss a broken neck for 12 months is shocking and scary.
Quietly, in the midst of all the fanfare going on in Ottawa, the Blackhawks traded two-time AHL All-Star defenseman Brian Connelly to the Calgary Flames for veteran center Brendan Morrison.
Morrison is still getting back into the swing of things after suffering an ACL injury in the spring, but is a nice defensive piece that could skate anywhere between the second and fourth line for the Hawks. Not many people may have noticed this trade, but the doors are now open for trade season.
108.8 mpg? Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat???
With his new and "improved" stick, Zdeno Chara destroyed his record for the hardest shot. Not many players have the stones to block shots any more to begin with, but when you show the world that you're good to go at 108.8? Pray for the goalie and get out of the way!
This kid's six, and he gets to rap with Heidi Androl and talk chirp fans from all over North America with a mic.
Some of the moves put on display this weekend were ridiculous, but the winner was Chicago's Patrick Kane. He took a page out of the repertoire of another sport's superstar skills competition, the NBA's Dwight Howard, and brought Superman to the event with him.
Kane deposited a pretty move in his second attempt, and then finished the job with an exploding puck.
When your good friend and teammate is one of the assistant captains helping to draft the two All-Star team rosters, you would think the guy would pick you. But when Zdeno Chara took Marian Gaborik before his Rangers teammate Henrik Lundqvist could call his name, Gaborik talked a little smack.
Three goals and an MVP Award later, Gaborik showed Lundqvist that he should be thrilled to be his teammate when it matters.
A case can be made that the most entertaining part of the skills competition was a mic'd-up Carey Price, who had as much fun between the pipes as the skaters who were trying to embarrass him. But when he decided to "Tebow" during John Tavares' lacrosse-style goal, most of North America hated him for a brief second.
Drake performed during the game and was impressive, but it's always interesting to see how celebrities and athletes interact. In this video, we get to see the musician meet some hockey players in the locker rooms. Patrick Kane gets a photo, and Drake gets his photo taken with Jarome Iginla before admitting that he was once a right wing.
Events like this are always roughest on the guys between the pipes, and Sunday night was no exception. But when you get passing like we see here between Marian Hossa and Marian Gaborik, it's hard to not feel the pain of the goaltender's knees, groin, back, etc.
Malkin has some of the best hands on the planet... and apparently his feet are just as good. This was the second goal of the game on Sunday, and the control displayed by Malkin makes you wonder how anyone ever gets the puck away from him.
We already saw Hossa with a gorgeous assist to Gaborik, but here he does it all himself. He embarrasses two opponents and puts the puck in the net, showing off puck control that has him among the candidates for Hart Trophy consideration as we roll towards the end of the season.
Tim Thomas has never been confused with a conventional goalie (or a Democrat), and here he does what Tim Thomas does best. In spite of the game being dominated by scorers, this is one of the more impressive saves you'll see all year.
There was a lot of great action in Ottawa this weekend, and if you ask a hockey fan what was missing, they'll probably say "effort on defense." Or maybe "hats on the ice for Gaborik."
But it isn't likely that anyone noticed Washington's captain was nowhere to be found.
The game showed this weekend that it's bigger than "The [formerly] Great 8," and doesn't need the sideshow to survive.
With all due respect to the NHL's best players and the NFL's best non-championship-contenders, both All-Star Games sucked. Lots of incredible talent, lots of going through the motions.
The best all-world performance from this weekend was in the men's championship finals of the Australian Open. I don't care if you're not a tennis fan, that was six hours of legitimately epic competition and is worth watching.
There are a lot of great captains in the NHL, but not many have garnered as much respect from their peers than Daniel Alfredsson. In what was truly a wonderful celebration of the game, Ottawa's captain became the centerpiece of the weekend and received the love from Ottawa fans that he deserved. He's a class act, and the game is better because of guys like Alfredsson.