Rookie Ottawa Senators forward Colin Greening will get a chance to show off his talents during the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition Saturday.
Although Greening didn’t earn an invite to play in Sunday’s Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game, he was one of 12 rookies selected to compete for teams captained by either Daniel Alfredsson or Zdeno Chara at the skills competition.
“It did take me by surprise,” Greening told Sens TV in regards to getting chosen to participate in the event slated to take place at Scotiabank Place.
Greening will join fellow Ottawa teammates Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, Erik Karlsson and Alfredsson at the event, although he won’t know whether he will compete for Team Alfredsson or Team Chara until Thursday night’s NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft.
“It’ll be a lot of fun to have some familiar faces there,” Greening said. “Obviously, it’s going to be nice to see all the other all-stars, too, and meet all the other rookies. It’s going to be a fun weekend.”
Greening pointed out that his best chance to show off his skills could come in the fastest skater competition. “I’d say it’s probably a good chance I’ll be in the fastest skater, so I’ll be warming up pretty well for that one,” said the 25-year-old forward, who has 11 goals and 15 assists through 52 games with the Sens this season.
If he does win, he will follow in the skate blades of Michael Grabner of the New York Islanders, who had the fastest lap of 14.238 seconds last year as a rookie.
Greening could face tough competition from New York Rangers forward Marian Gaborik, who won the event in 2003 with a time of 13.713 seconds. The all-time record was set in 1996, when Mike Gartner blazed to a time of 13.386 seconds.
The format for the fastest skater event has changed this year as competitors will race head-to-head. Both skaters race toward the same end zone, turn outward, skate to the opposite end zone, turn back and skate past centre ice to the finish line.
Other events at the skills competition include the breakaway challenge, accuracy shooting, skills challenge relay, hardest shot and elimination shootout.
The breakaway challenge has an interactive element, as fans will get to vote via text messaging on who they believe made the most exciting and skillful breakaway move.
Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks will attempt to defend his title in the accuracy shooting competition. Other previous winners who will be taking part in this year’s event are Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins (2009) and Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames (2002)
Chara has owned the hardest-shot event, having won the past four competitions. The Bruins captain set a new record last year with a 105.9 mile per hour blast.
Other contenders include Iginla, Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators, and Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks will be back to defend his title in the elimination shootout, while 2008 winner, Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf, will have a chance to win the event for the second time.
Correction – January 25, 2012, 4:20 pm EST: A previous version of this story contained incorrect information. A quote on paragraph six wasinaccurately transcribed from Colin Greening. The previous quote was, “I’d say it’s probably a good chance I’ll be the fastest skate.” Metro regrets the error.