Like other professional sports, the NHL holds an All Star Game at the midway point of the regular season to show case many of the leagues stars together on the same sheet of ice. The games proceeds benefit the players pension fund.
Fan balloting has eliminated some of the allure of the game, as many fan favorite players are selected as opposed to those who actually deserve the honor. I am very much in the favor of eliminating fan balloting, and letting the players, coaches, general managers, and the statistics once again selecting who gets the right to represent their team at the mid season classic. Pondering this, there were actually several changes I would not mind seeing take place to make the game something more eventful. Here are a few of my suggestions.
- Jan 30, 2011; Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE
I am not against the concept of an all-star game, but do think the NHL needs to envision something more granduer than their current setup. Since we are no longer categorizing the teams via conference, can we get rid of the need for additional sweaters? There is nothing better than seeing the amazing array of colors at an NHL event. Since all teams carry a home and away set of colors, there is no reason why we can’t see a vast array of colors at the All Star Game. Let one team where white, the other the home sweaters, and let the fans see the array of colors. The NFL does this with their helmets at the Pro Bowl. Put some local pride into the mid season classic. Want to make the guy feel special, make it a different sweater than they wear for most games and stick the All Star Game patch on the shoulder.
Regardless of how players get selected into the All Star Game festivities, I am a fan of keeping the draft style way of selecting the teams. Allowing captains to pick their teams gives fans and players the chance to see and play with guys they may not usually get to play with. It also gives fans an insight more into how the players feel about each other. I also like the concept of rewarding the fat kid in dodgeball, and giving the last guy picked a car. How cool is that. Sorry you got picked last, heres a car. Spice it up though, and get the kids involved. Find a local hockey program and have the NHL players throw their sticks in at center ice. Let a couple of kids skate into center ice and pick sticks on at a time to see who plays on what side. You can do it three different times to make sure the teams are even when it comes to number of forwards, goalies, and defensemen.
Part of me wants to keep current players in the game. If you keep players in the game; make the event more like the NFL Pro Bowl and eliminate it from the regular season. Injuries, cohesion, and the premium on points makes the regular season matchups even more important. Teams that send several representatives don’t get the same down time that teams with fewer or no representatives. Putting the All Star Game after the playoffs makes a little bit of sense, or you could keep it and eliminate current players from the festivities, giving all players a break from the action about midseason – call it the NHL Bye Weekend.
What then, could the NHL do to keep fans wanting hockey action happy? Make the All Star Game a weekend long round robin tournament. Teams that want to be a part of the action can – you can limit the pool of teams by request and necessity, similar to the way the Traverse City Tournament is limited. Do it by invite, by request, or a rolling lottery. What NHL teams would want to go through the rigors of a mini-tournament halfway throught he season? How about the alumni. How cool would it be for the NHL to market an alumni tournament featuring the historical best of retired players from six teams throughout the league? Original six matchups, old time hockey - you couldn’t beat it.
What about the current all stars you say? You have long boring off season time to fill. Make All Star Game weekend the same weekend that you do the NHL Awards Ceremony. Instead of holding the Awards ceremony in Las Vegas, which could care less about hockey, let it travel the 30 NHL cities. Make a fan fair out of it. See, it all fits together. You could put it with the draft. Make it fun. Can you imagine Shea’s historic theater playing host to the Stanley Cup, The Hart Memorial, The Vezina, the Calder? I could.
There are so many options that the NHL could do to make a “fun and meangingless” hockey game more fun – for both the players and the fans.
There probably never going to change the All Star game that drastically, but one can hope.