During the NHL All-Star weekend, some of the best hockey players as voted by the fans represented their respective teams in the All-Star challenge, which consists of a miniature tournament and skills competition. In this year’s 2019 skills competition, no one was surprised to see (arguably) the number one ranked NHL player in Connor McDavid, known for his incredible speed, rise to the top of the podium for the fastest skater event. What did come to a shock to many, however, was the United States female hockey all-star Kendall Coyne Schofield finish the fastest skating segment with a time of 14.346, just one second behind McDavid’s time of 13.378.
Coyne Schofield filled in for a last minute injury to Nathan Mackinnon of the Colorado Avalanche, turning the heads of every spectator present and viewing from home. McDavid noted that, “When she took off, I was like wow. I thought she won the event,” and further praise and surprise came from many other NHL players participating.
The surprise was a wake up call to many viewers and NHL players that female players are not ‘playing a man’s game’, and should be recognized as the incredible athletes they are. It is no secret that the world of female hockey has developed significantly over the past two decades, although many of the elite players make minimal pay, get little to no media coverage, and are undermined in society.
Having Coyne Schofield represent all of women’s hockey and proving she can hang with the best of these athletes, particularly with respect to skill level, took a huge leap forward for women’s hockey. Not only did it earn her high praise and recognition from the athletic community, but she also received a stipend of $25 000 from CCM for her efforts. Hopefully the NHL will recognize the impact a simple competition has made for not just a single player but women’s hockey as a whole, and look to include some of the best deserving athletes in future competition’s and promotional events to help promote the game of women’s hockey.