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Connor McDavid wins All-Star skills event, crowd boos Nikita Kucherov

The Toronto crowd isn’t too keen on the Lightning star’s effort in the passing and stick-handling portions.
 
The Oilers' Connor McDavid skates during the NHL All-Star skills competition's obstacle course section in Toronto on Friday,.
The Oilers' Connor McDavid skates during the NHL All-Star skills competition's obstacle course section in Toronto on Friday,. [ NATHAN DENETTE | AP ]
Published Feb. 3|Updated Feb. 3

TORONTO — Connor McDavid won the NHL All-Star Skills competition Friday night, taking home the $1 million prize while showing once again why he is considered the best hockey player in the world.

The reigning and three-time MVP dominated the competition he helped the league and players union revive after thinking in previous years it had gotten “a little gimmicky, a little out there.” With his assist, it went back to the basics, and McDavid was dominant.

“I thought it was a fun event,” McDavid said.

The Edmonton Oilers captain finished first in the fastest skater, winning that event for the fourth time in his career, and stick-handling and went 4 for 4 in accuracy shooting.

“Obviously he’s the epitome of competitiveness on a daily basis, so I’m not surprised,” Oilers teammate Leon Draisaitl said.

Three players from the Western Conference rival Colorado Avalanche also put on a show. Nathan MacKinnon won the one-timers event, while Cale Makar had the hardest shot at 102.56 mph. Goaltender Alexandar Georgiev made nine saves — on McDavid — in one on one to win $100,000.

The prize money was one of the new wrinkles at the redesigned skills competition that featured just 12 players.

“I think guys like it,” Draisaitl said. “I don’t know how it was received on TV, but I thought it was good.”

Fans cheered Maple Leafs All-Stars Auston Matthews and William Nylander and booed Nikita Kucherov multiple times when they didn’t appreciate his lack of effort in the passing and stick-handling events.

Kucherov even waved to the crowd after finishing dead last in the stick-handling race — over 44 seconds, well behind McDavid’s winning time of 25.755 seconds and slower than David Pastrnak, who missed the net.

“You sit there for like three hours and then you get to go stick-handle,” Kucherov said. “That was kind of tough.”

Unsurprisingly, Kucherov was one of four players eliminated after the first six events. The Lightning winger and 2019 MVP enjoyed being booed.

They also applauded McDavid, a native of Richmond Hill in suburban Toronto who rooted for the Leafs as a kid.

“Toronto fans have always showed a lot of love to me when I’ve been in town, and it means a lot,” McDavid said. “The building means a lot. The fans have always treated me really well, and it means a lot to hear them cheer.”

Connor Bedard, the top pick in the draft by the Chicago Blackhawks and the front-runner for NHL rookie of the year before breaking his jaw Jan. 5, made a surprise appearance as a passer for the one-timers event. Bedard was picked to participate before the injury.

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Leafs alumni Doug Gilmour and Steve Thomas and Toronto Professional Women’s Hockey League players and Canadian Olympians Sarah Nurse and Blayre Turnbull served as passers in accuracy shooting. Nurse and Turnbull were among the players who took part in the PWHL 3-on-3 showcase Thursday night.

By STEPHEN WHYNO, Associated Press