Olympic gold medalist Kendall Coyne makes history as the first woman to participate in the NHL All-Stars Skills Competition.
Coyne is a professional ice hockey player. She played for the USA team in the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018 where the team brought home a gold medal. She also played in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in which the United States brought home silver.
The All-Star Weekend is a staple of the NHL season. Every year, the teams take a break and participate in the three day event, ending with a final divisional game.
The captain of the Central Division, Nathan McKinnon, had to miss out on the skills competition after suffering from a bruised foot. The team’s Twitter account reached out to Coyne:
“Nate’s here in San Jose for #NHLAllStar, but has someone else in mind to compete for Fastest Skater,” the tweet stated. “@KendallCoyne, what do you think!?”
Coyne was admittedly nervous but seized the opportunity. She knew this would be a groundbreaking moment in NHL history. No woman has ever competed in the All-Star Game.
In fact, only one other woman has ever played in the NHL. Goaltender Manon Rhéaume played a single game for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1992. This would be the first time in any major North American sport a woman has participated.
In the skills competition, Coyne would be competing for the fastest skater. She was up against some of the best players in the league including Connor McDavid who has won the last two contests.
The Olympian placed seventh amongst some of the top skaters. She even beat out the Arizona Coyote’s Clayton Keller who timed out at 14.256 seconds; Coyne skated 14.346. McDavid, who won his third title in a row, skated the course in 13.378 seconds.
She may not have blown away the competition, but she definitely blew everyone’s minds. McDavid was convinced she had actually won the competition and was astounded she had lost. Calgary Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau was impressed and excited for a female competitor.
From USAToday, Coyne stated:
“The NHL players view us as hockey players and that’s how we want to be viewed. The NHL took a huge stance that night in allowing me to compete. They knew I could skate with the guys. And it is so important for people to realize that women’s hockey has grown and the speed of the game is right up there with men’s hockey.”
After her impressive performance, NBC reached out to Coyne for an analyst position. They asked her to be an analyst during the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins game on Wednesday night. She will appear alongside veteran analyst Pierre McGuire.
Executive producer at NBC, Sam Flood, immediately noticed Coyne’s performance and how it got people talking.
“We saw the enormous reaction the players and fans had when she blazed that amazing speed, and want to celebrate her accomplishment,” Flood stated.