WILL YOU WATCH THE NHL ALL-STAR GAME?
CURRENT FORMAT WORTH A PEEK!
An All-Star game is a celebration of the sport and a showcase of the best athletes in the game. I never had much interested in watching All-Star games in any of the Pro Sports. For my expectations, they lack competition and players give minimal effort. But the current NHL format has stirred my interest.
Over the years, the NHL has used different formats to showcase their Stars. The 1st NHL All-Star game was at Maple Leaf Gardens on October 13, 1947, when the Stanley Cup Champions, Toronto Maple Leafs, played a team of NHL All-Stars. The format of the All-Stars playing the Cup Champion continued until 1968.
As the league was expanding, in 1969, an All-Star team was selected from each conference. The Wales/Eastern Conference played the Campbell/Western Conference. The fans voted for the "Starting Line-up" for each conference. The remainder of the teams was selected by the general managers.
The year of the 1998 Olympic games in Nagano, the format changed to North America vs the World until 2002 to showcase more European players.
The Eastern vs. Western Conference returned in 2003 until 2010.
From 2011 to 2015, a new twist was introduced. The players ran a selection draft, led by the captain of each conference. Rosters were selected from a pool of players voted by the fans and selected by the NHL. The draft was televised the night before the game and was fun to watch.
AS FOR COACHES, they were originally the two Stanley Cup Finals coaches from the previous year. Since 1996, coaches are selected from teams leading their respective conferences in point percentage at a predetermined date.
The current All-Star game format began in 2016. The 4-team, 3 on 3 single elimination games format is much more competitive than in previous years. Fans of the 3 on 3 overtime can enjoy three games made up of 10-minute halves. What can be better than the best players in the world playing 3 on 3? The NHL also introduced incentives to make it more competitive. The winners of the first two games meet in an All-Star Game Final. As part of a team and only 6 skaters on the ice, players feel some accountability to their teammates and bragging rights are important. The league also rewards the winning team with $1Million. Proceeds from the game benefit the players’ pension fund and some players give all or a portion of their winnings to charity.
Adding to the week-end excitement, the Game is preceded by the NHL All-Star Skills Competition. Players have a chance to show their amazing talents in their specific skill sets. Since 2011, rookies also compete in the skills competition replacing the NHL YoungStars Game which started in 2007.
As a goalie in the NHL for 14 seasons, I never had the opportunity to play in an NHL All-Star game. I can only imagine how tough it is for goalies to “enjoy playing” in such games. The emphasis is on offense leaving goalies exposed to many great scoring chances and they are often left on their own to defend. However, I’m sure that the honor of being selected to play in this prestigious event and rubbing shoulders with the stars of the game outweighs having to face a few breakaways and “Grade A” scoring chances for a few shifts.
Before the current format, I had very little interest in watching All-Star Games. Now, I look forward to watching it and encourage skeptical hockey fans like I was to give it a chance and enjoy the exceptional skills of those elite athletes.
ENJOY THE SKILLS COMPETION AND THE GAME JANUARY ON 25 & 26.
MAKE THIS DAY THE BEST IT CAN BE!