The NHL put on its annual skills competition in San Jose on Friday, but not everybody got to see one of the most impressive performances of the night.
Kendall Coyne Schofield and Brianna Decker, a pair of stars for Team USA, took part in the festivities, putting their talents on display and up against the NHL’s best.
However, Coyne Schofield was the only one to participate in an official capacity, replacing Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon in the fastest skater event. MacKinnon was reportedly out with a bruised foot.
Before the start of the premier passer event, a showcase for skill in directing pucks to hockey player standups, mini nets and light-up targets, Decker let the SAP Center crowd know how it’s done.
It was thought initially that the two-time Olympian finished the competition in 1:06 and that the NHL did not clock her demonstration, rendering her time unofficial. Her performance was not televised, but it was documented on social media.
With a time of 1:09.088, the NHL officially recognized the Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl as the winner of the eight-player event. It was later determined that the league did clock Decker, and that she just missed Draisaitl’s time.
“[San Jose’s Erik] Karlsson went after me, so I was like, ‘Okay, I think I might have beaten him,’ but I didn’t know how long it took me. I was just casually going through the demo,” Decker said afterward, per The Hockey News' Matt Larkin.
Draisaitl, along with other winners of the night’s events, earned $25,000 for his efforts. That meant that even though Decker beat Draisaitl’s time by three seconds, she was going home empty-handed by virtue of just demonstrating how to perform the event. A hashtag was soon born, encouraging the NHL to #PayDecker.
CCM, the hockey equipment manufacturer that sponsors Decker, stepped up to pay her the same $25,000 awarded to Draisaitl, for posting the best time. The company tweeted “We’re gonna #PayDecker” along with a statement Saturday afternoon.
“Sincerely thankful @CCMHockey,” Decker tweeted. “You have been nothing but 1st class the last 5 years I have been a part of your family! Thank you for supporting the men’s and women’s game equally!
#NHLAllStar #MadeofHockey #Hockeyisforeveryone”
The NHL announced during Saturday night’s All-Star Game that it would donate $25,000 to the charity or hockey program of Decker’s and Coyne Schofield’s choice, as well as the two other women who participated in the skills competition, Renata Fast and Rebecca Johnston.