First time ever a woman has competed in the event
U.S. Women’s hockey star Kendall Coyne Schofield skated in the fastest skater competition, making her the first woman to compete in an NHL all-star skills competition. Not only did she participate but she also had an impressive time putting her in competitive standing with the others.
Earlier that day, Schofield learnt of her chance to compete in Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon’s place, as he suffered injury. She had already been invited to the all-star weekend with other women’s players, including Brianna Decker, but this was a huge chance to make history.
Known for her speed, she took on the challenge and impressed everyone in the arena. Schofield raced around the rink in 14.346 seconds, a time that placed her 7th out of 8 players. She beat an NHLer and impressed all of her top competitors. Connor McDavid, who won the speed competition commented on her success. “When she took off, I was like, ‘Wow!’” He continued to commend her speed and said, “I thought she might have won the way she was moving. She was a really good skater and that was an amazing thing for the game to see her participate like that in an event like this.”
Schofield wasn’t the only female to be recognized widely by the media and public for her talent that night. Brianna Decker, another U.S. women’s hockey star, had an outstanding showing in the passing challenge on the Friday night. Her time, although unofficial, was 1:06 minutes, putting her three seconds faster than the best men’s time of Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers. The reason her time did not count was because it wasn’t recorded by officials, it was recorded by spectators at home who took to social media.
While this is an incredible feat to reach for a woman in hockey, her time did not count simply because she was only providing a demonstration of the event and not competing. The male winner of this event was granted $25 000 U.S.D. in prize money and this left many hockey fans unsettled. This prompted the trended hashtag, #paydecker.
The fact of the matter was that Decker was not a part of this competition. She, as well as other members of the WNHL were present at the all-star skills event in order to grow with members of the NHL rather than compete against them. Where the public’s frustration may have rooted from was the lack of recognition for women’s athletic achievements in general, and large pay gap between the two different leagues.
American sportswriter and radio personality Greg Wyshynski was quick to defend the NHL and how they recognized the women at the all-star event. Wyshynski clarified on twitter that players Decker, Schofield, as well as Rebecca Johnston and Renata Fast were commended for their part in the competition with $25 000 U.S.D. each to charities of their choice. His tweet stated, “The U.S. and Canadian women’s players involved in the skills competition are honored at the game, and the NHL is donating $25,000 each to the charities of their choice #NHLAllStar.”
The well known hockey brand, CCM sent Decker a congratulatory letter highlighting her achievement. “The CCM Hockey family would like to congratulate you on your performance at last night’s skills competition. 1:06, that’s pretty fast!” the letter said. It continued by granting her the $25,000 U.S.D. prize money out of their own pocket. “We understand the importance of recognizing female hockey players and are pleased to give you the $25,000 that you deserve. You are an ambassador for growing the women’s game and we are so proud to have you on the CCM team.”
Schofield plays for the Minnesota Whitecaps in the Women’s National Hockey League (WNHL). Decker plays for the Calgary Inferno of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL).
The two women won an Olympic gold medal for the United States this past February in South Korea.