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MacGregor: Putting fun back into the skills competition

And so, once again, we enter the time of the skills competition.

NHL teams are holding contests to determine their fastest skater – ever wonder why the winners never seem to be the fastest in game conditions? – the hardest shot, the shootout. …

It's all so predictable.

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If only they would spruce matters up by adding a few new competitions, such as: who can string together the most clichés in a single scrum; who can shower, dress and leave quickest without speaking to the media after a loss; and who can pick an old scab quick enough to get a high-sticking penalty raised from two minutes to five.

The Ottawa Senators will hold their skills event Wednesday at the Canadian Tire Centre. Tickets are reasonable – $12.50 to $20 – and, in an effort to attract a few more fans to what is admittedly a bit of a tired exercise, they are offering a "Junior Skills" competition to precede the NHLers taking to the ice as the main show.

With great respect, we would like to recommend something a bit different that might well prove more attractive, at least as a once-off, than either the youngsters or the NHLers trying to shatter Styrofoam targets attached to the four corners of the net.

This new competition would be held well after the NHL competition is through, with competitors not taking to the ice until 11:00 p.m. at the earliest.

Welcome, then, to the 2014 Beer League Skills Competition:

The Skate Tie:

Far-more challenging than appears the case. Competitors would be allowed only one deep breath, must pull on both skates, tighten laces and complete an acceptable knot under the clock.

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Rapid-fire Cellphone Dial:

Competitors must sit in full equipment with clothes on pegs behind them. They are told only one goalie has shown up. Competitor who can find their cellphone fastest, dial and get a verbal commitment from a goaltender to come right away will be declared the winner.

Getting Up:

Competitors will be dumped from behind when least suspecting. Player who is able to delay game long enough – eating into the precious 50 minutes of ice time – will be declared both winner and loser.

Equipment Repair:

Players will be supplied with three safety pins, a needle and six-pound mono-filament fishing line and a roll of duct tape. They will be assigned a duffel bag containing jock, shoulder pads, elbow pads, socks and pants from 1966. First player to put equipment together to a point where he can dress and play will be declared a winner.

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Blind Pass Contest:

Player who comes closest of actually completing a blind back pass or between-the-legs drop pass will be declared victor. (Senators captain Jason Spezza has agreed to supervise event.)

Dressing Room Linguists:

Players must use four-letter word of choice as noun, adjective and verb in a single sentence to quality. Winner will not necessarily use most profane language in one-minute span, but victory will go the one who uses most imagination in breaking words up into syllable-curse-syllable without pausing.

Name That Player:

Players will be divided into three groups, those who have played together for 10 years, for 20, for 30 and more. Teammates will be lined up and contestants must identify their long-time teammates by their last names.


Players will be timed from end-of-game buzzer to first round at same bar, same table, same chair they have sat in every Thursday night since the 1973-74 season. First there wins free draft.

Taking Leave:

Closely related to beer competition. Players to be divided into two groups – those who shower, those who do not – and timed from opening of dressing-room door at end of game to exiting same door for bar, home or, in some cases, secret rendezvous.


Let the NHLers time their shots and brag about breaking the 100-miles-per-hour mark. Senior competitors will take shots from the point to determine who can score with the puck crossing the goal line but not strong enough to reach the back of the net. Curling brooms permitted.

Bad Joke Showdown:

Each side will select a chosen joke-teller. Winner will be the most drawn-out, boring, time-consuming and nonsensical joke or near-joke attempted.

"Back in the Day" Contest:

Open to all players. Contestants will have two minutes to tell the dressing room or bar table what it was like, say, to play against Bobby Orr or Guy Lafleur when they were 8, what it felt like to have a cousin who was almost invited to the Montreal Canadiens training camp, and what life was like on the bench of the last-place intramural team at college. … And how come, now that we're into this, if you indeed were on that 1963 Memorial Cup winning team (Edmonton Oil Kings), you do not appear in the team photo that the rest of us just looked up on Google?

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