NHL Breakaway Challenge: How Can It Be Improved?

Brent BellCorrespondent IJanuary 25, 2009

I'm on the edge of my couch, patiently waiting for Alex Ovechkin's turn in the NHL Super Skills Breakaway Challenge.

After seeing Patrick Kane, Ryan Getzlaf, Martin St.Louis, Alex Kovalev, and Steven Stamkos all have their chances, some failing and some pulling off some pretty good moves, I couldn't care less. It was Ovechkin's turn, this was the reason I was watching.

After a couple failed attempts, Ovechkin went over to the Eastern All-Stars bench, and out pops Evgeni Malkin. Malkin hands over to Ovechkin a hat, black and white shades and of course the Canadian flag waving proud and free, clipped to Ovie's hat.

Here we go, this has to be the big move. The 360, then the home-run hit. Then he grabbed Malkin's stick? What! A double bat in! You have to be kidding me!? After a shot of Gatorade, Ovie was ready to go. Here comes the biggest move in hockey history I thought.

But what I got was Ovechkin coming in with two sticks, throwing one away half way into the zone, and just taking a simple shot from the hash marks... and he didn't even put it in.

After a second attempt rebound that got into the back of the net, Ovie put his hands high up in the air, and knew he had won the competition. Not because of the moves he tried to pull off, but because of his showmanship.

The Breakaway Challenge needs to be changed, that's a no-brainer. But how? Everybody has their suggestions, but here are my thoughts on how to change this event, and make it more entertaining for fans and easier for players.


Change #1: Enough with this one minute stuff. The players are taking their sweet time, and are thinking too much. I say, give them about 15 seconds. That way they practice only about two moves, have them perfected, and put on a great show.


Change #2: If the NHL wants to make this a successful competition, they need to take a more of a NBA Dunk Contest approach.

Have six competitors with three rounds. To start off the show, all six do one move. The fans vote, and later in the show you have the two with the lowest votes eliminated.

You can figure out the rest. Once it is down to two, each player has 30 seconds (different to the 15 because of it being the final), and show their best moves. The fans vote, and you have a winner.


Change #3: You can't have a local Jr. B goalie in there. The kid stopped at least 80 percent of the shots the competitors took. They told the kid to let as many in as he could, but that didn't work did it?

Here is the perfect opportunity for say Darren Pang to get into this. Have a retired goalie who is in the broadcasting industry step between the pipes. It would make it more entertaining, and the goalie wouldn't be nervous enough to stop everything.

Or, here's another option. What about a MLB catcher comes in, has a little fun and helps the game by getting fans more into it. The only thing with this is if MLB clubs would let catchers out for a risk like this due to injury.

Players would most likely put most shots in, except maybe glove side. Those catchers have a quick snag.


Change #4: I like the fact that had the fans vote the winner, and another change should be the fans get to vote their favorites into the competition.

I say have the defending champ, one of the "Young Guns," and the fans vote the other four in. This way, voting might be a little more even, as fans will want to see their favorites bring home the prize.

The NHL made multiple changes to the event, and in my opinion it was better all around, but it can still be majorly improved.

Some people love the Breakaway Challenge, but for now, most people hate it. This event could go some where in my opinion, and be the highlight of the Super Skills. But, when you break it all down, the picture on my computer wallpaper right now is Alex Ovechkin with the hat, shades and flag along with his hands raised in celebration.

The NHL must be doing something right.