Kendall Coyne Schofield first woman to compete in All-Stars skills competition

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon was named the captain of the Central Division for NHL All-Star Weekend but couldn't compete in Friday's skills competition because of a bruised foot.

So on Friday, his team sent out a tweet offering a suggestion.

"Nate's here in San Jose for #NHLAllStar, but has someone else in mind to compete for Fastest Skater," the Avs said in the tweet. "@KendallCoyne, what do you think!?"

Kendall Coyne Schofield's response?

"My first impression was like, I can do this," she said.

A 5-foot-2 forward and gold medalist for the U.S. women's national team, Coyne Schofield, 26, became the first woman to compete in the NHL All-Star skills competition. In the fastest skater event, she posted a time of 14.346, which placed seventh out of a field that also included Connor McDavid, Cam Atkinson, Mathew Barzal, Jack Eichel, Miro Heiskanen, Clayton Keller and Elias Pettersson. Coyne Schofield finished ahead of Keller's 14.526 seconds. McDavid won in 13.378, his third straight title in the event.

"Obviously I was a little nervous," Coyne Schofield said afterward. "But I knew it was a moment that was going to break a lot of barriers and a moment that would change the perception of our game."

Coyne Schofield, who plays for the NWHL's Minnesota Whitecaps, impressed the crowd -- who began chanting "USA! USA!" -- as well as the other skaters.

"When she took off, I was like, 'Wow,'" McDavid said. "I thought she won the event."

Added Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews: "She was flying. I was giving Keller a hard time because she beat him. She came out for warm-ups, was buzzing around, and everyone was taking notice."

And Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau: "It's pretty impressive, obviously. It's great. It's really cool. And she's American, so it's even better."

Coyne Schofield was originally slated to attend the event and demonstrate the skills, along with other female players. She found out about that a few weeks ago. But she didn't learn of her inclusion in the fastest skater event until Friday, hours before the competition. She enjoyed hanging out with the other All-Stars, whom she called "awesome" and "so supportive."

"They kept telling me they were a little nervous I would beat them," Coyne Schofield said. "I had full confidence in them, so to see them have full confidence in me is pretty cool."

MacKinnon will not play in Saturday night's All-Star Game. However, he is in San Jose participating in the festivities, meaning he will avoid the mandatory one-game suspension for skipping the skills event.

Coyne Schofield wasn't the only woman to impress Friday night. U.S. teammate Brianna Decker demonstrated the passing competition with a completed time of 1:06. There was a bit of confusion as to when the clock actually started, but it appeared she might have upped NHL All-Star winner Leon Draisaitl's time of 1:09.

"It just shows the top players, men or women, belong," Coyne Schofield said.