Recognizing that the current All-Star format had grown cold, the NHL has decided to overhaul the format.
According to this TSN article, the fan voting for the starters will remain. After that, NHL hockey operations will select the remaining pool of players and two captains. It will be these captains that pick their own teams.
So, each captain will have to select 14 additional players for their squad. As per previous rules, each team must be represented.
This format change is extremely interesting. It gives a fresh look to an event that is beyond stale with both die-hard and casual fans. Now the weekend will include a schoolyard style draft in addition to the game and skills competition.
My only beef is that the game will stay the same. At the end of all of this you are still playing an all-star game between 40 guys who just don’t care. The same goes for the Pro Bowl and NBA All-Star game. The MLB made an interesting choice when they decided that home field for the World Series would be determined by the ASG winner. However, to take away a team’s hard work in the regular season so that an exhibition game carries more weight is asinine.
I am glad the NFL, NBA and NHL haven’t followed suit with that sort of thinking. However, I think playing the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl and the winning conference then wins the coin toss could be an interesting way to do things.
But, this is about the NHL. They made the right choice. They found a way to legitimize this game without including too many silly gimmicks. For my money the skills competition is the coolest part of the All-Star celebration anyway.
Now we just have to hope that this new way of picking teams breeds additional competition, I don’t think it will though. It will be funny to see who the last guy picked is. I know the NHL doesn’t want that to happen but we aren’t talking about the fat kid being the last one picked for dodgeball. These guys are all elite athletes, I’m pretty sure they won’t care. Besides, knowing first-hand the way hockey players are, they will have more fun with the fact that someone was left standing alone anyway.
The one thing I wish they would do with this is pick the teams before the skills competition – that includes rookies. Let the captain pick his guys for the All-Star game and the YoungStars game (if they still plan on having it) and let the boys play. You will only need 15 minutes, max, before the skills challenge to do this. I’m sure the NHL can pump out the jerseys for the next day too, so don’t tell me that is the issue.
Either way, this is a cool addition to an event that was become very uncool. Now they need to solve the problem of hosting it in terrible cities. Good call, host the game in an average arena with a terrible fan base. Why not showcase the Penguins new arena? If they are going to run around the warm weather cities with this event they can at least go to the ones that care a little bit. Stick to LA, San Jose and Dallas.
Then at least the fans will be excited about this unique way of setting up the teams.