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Tom Mitsos The Hockey Writers

Published on Monday, January 30, 2017





NHL Messed up Fastest Skater Competition

In an outcome everyone and their mother predicted before Saturday’s NHL Skills Competition, Connor McDavid won the fastest skater competition and had the opportunity to break Dylan Larkin’s controversial record.

McDavid fell short with a time of 13.310 to Larkin’s 13.172 he set last season in Nashville. However, McDavid did beat Mike Gartner’s record of 13.386 set in 1996.

Inconsistent Race

So, what’s the controversy? Well, McDavid and Gartner started from a stand still at the red line, while Larkin got a running start from the blue line. Larkin’s time started and stopped at the red line.

The Sportsnet video below clearly shows the timer starting and stopping when Larkin reaches the red line (Larkin starts racing at 1:50).

And as you can see in the McDavid video, he starts at the red line (the attempt to break the record starts at 1:24).

Interestingly enough, Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski reported McDavid asked for a running start but was denied by the NHL.

McDavid said this about not being able to get a running start:

I wanted to go a little further back, but they told me there was a line drawn on the ice. They told me I had to be between that line and the red line. No running start.

I definitely knew that. I wanted to try that and see if I could get that. But no dice, I guess. He deserves to be the fastest guy to ever do it. He’s a great skater.

McDavid wants it to be a fair race, but like all hockey players, gives due props to his opponent and opts not to make a big deal out of the situation.

Larkin took to Twitter last night to admit he had an advantage and offered McDavid a head-to-head matchup in the future.

NHL Messed Up

Even if you think Larkin didn’t have an advantage — which would include ignoring video evidence — the fact of the matter is the NHL messed up the competition. Allowing Larkin to have a head start last season is inconsistent with how it was run in the past.

I’m not sure if the league bent the rules in order to give Larkin a chance to break the record and create some hype for the NHL, but it’s silly to make a rule change one year, and then go back to the old rules the next year.

Every scientist knows when you conduct experiments, you must make each trial as similar to the previous ones; they must be as controlled as they can be. Improved equipment, which gives players today an advantage, is a variable the league can’t control. Starting at the same spot is a variable the league can control.

Even if Larkin was timed blue line to blue line, starting from the blue line is not the same thing as starting from the red line. Sure, it’s the same distance, but starting on the blue line gives the skater more distance to build up speed than starting at the red line.

Imagine if the players started at the turn at the faceoff circle. Again, it’s the same distance, but players won’t be able to reach top speed starting on a turn like they would if they were starting on a straight line.

Of course, this is not a scientific experiment and it’s all meant to be fun for the players and fans, but if the league is going to hold a fastest skater competition, it needs to be the same rules every time.


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