In an effort to make sports fans care about an NHL exhibition that hockey fans don’t even acknowledge, the powers that be in New York are trying to breathe some new life into the All-Star Game. They want to make it more fun. They want to bring it back to its “roots.” They want people to actually care and talk about it. And most importantly, they want a few people to sit down and watch it.
So here’s the plan per the NHL:
- Fans will continue to play the lead role in the selection of All-Stars when 2011 NHL All-Star Fan Balloting presented by XM launches on Monday, November 15. The All-Star Balloting process, which is entirely digital for the fourth consecutive game, runs through January 3.
- From a group of 100 players on the ballot, fans will vote for their top six All-Stars by position without regard to the Conference in which the player plays. Fans will also have the ability to write-in a player of their choice.
- The three forwards, two defensemen, and one goalie receiving the most votes will be named NHL All-Stars.
- As with previous All-Star games, the remaining 36 All-Stars will be named by the NHL Hockey Operations Department for a total of 42 All-Star players (3 goalies, 6 defensemen, and 12 forwards per team).
- Following the selection of All-Stars, NHL Hockey Operations will designate 12 NHL rookies to participate in the Honda NHL SuperSkills® on Saturday, January 29 for a total of 54 NHL players taking part in All-Star weekend.
- After the 42 NHL All-Stars have been selected, two captains will be chosen per team by the players.
- On Friday, January 28, 2011, a fantasy draft event will be held in Raleigh with all 54 NHL players (42 All-Stars and 12 rookies) during which the captains will draft the remaining members of their respective teams.
- First selection in the draft will be determined by coin flip and selections will continue on an alternating basis.
- Each team will be required to select three goalies, six defensemen, and 23 forwards in any order they choose.
- After the selection of the All-Star game rosters, the captains will select among the 12 rookies to fill out the rosters for the Honda NHL SuperSkills.
- Each team will feature six rookies participating in various skills competitions.
- Teams will participate in six different skills, including NHL Fastest Skater, NHL Breakaway Challenge, Accuracy Shooting, Skills Challenge Relay, NHL Hardest Shot, and the NHL Elimination Shoot Out.
No, this isn’t a proposal or something they’re kickin’ around for a developmental camp. This is it—this is how the All-Star Game is going to go down in Raleigh this year. It’s a done deal.
“The goal of the All-Star format change was designed to make the game more fun for everyone involved. By giving the players more input on team selection, as well as Skills Competition match-ups, we feel the 2011 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft will inject more excitement and intrigue into all the events surrounding All-Star weekend.” –Brendan Shanahan (via NHL Fanhouse)
Is this a good idea? Hell, I don’t care. Notice, that wasn’t an “I don’t know,” it was an “I don’t care.” It’s the All-Star game—it is what it is. I treat it the same way as 95% of the league’s players do: a three day break in the middle of the season to recharge my batteries for the rest of the season. Will I watch it? Maybe—depends if I have anything better to do. So I guess I probably will.
But if I have anything better to do, I’ll miss it and I won’t think twice. Whether it’s East vs. West; World vs. North America; two teams picked by the captains; two teams picked by Greg Wyshynski and Justin Bourne, I don’t care. Hell, we could have Steve Tambellini pick a team of players who don’t want to be there against a team selected by Lou Lamoriello that consists of only 15 players.
But just like people who cry out, “What about the children,” I wonder if anyone thought about the players? I honestly can’t wait to see how the captains handle this. The NHL wants to make the selections a public process—which sounds infinitely more intriguing than the game itself. Tell me you wouldn’t be curious to see if Sidney Crosby would pick a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. Would he pick Matt Niskanen? Would he willingly pass up a teammate like Evgeni Malkin to select another center? Better yet, will it cause tension and chaos? Because we’re big fans of chaos here at VFMS.
Can you imagine how that would go in the locker room?
Geno: *pissed off in the corner, sulking*
Sid: Hey Geno, sorry about that whole All-Star thing. I was totally going to take you with my 5th pick, but there was a run on defensemen.
Sid: Please don’t let this stupid All-Star Game thing get between us. We’re trying to win a Cup here!
Geno: If you liked Gonchar that much, you should have just begged for him to stay here!
Sid: *mutters* Just imagine how pissed you’d be if I picked Jordan Staal before you like I had planned.
Another concept that I can’t wait to see is who will be the last All-Star selected? Mike Colligan had a piece over on Forbes that states there might be some kind of group set-up to save the last player some embarrassment. But if they choose to play the selection process straight, wouldn’t you be curious to see who is the last guy chosen? If you’re already a Crosby/Ovechkin/Toews/whoever hater, then how much more fuel for your fire will you have if he punks your team’s all-star? Is it possible that a game with the NHL’s 46 best players could have a Mr. Irrelevant? Because if so, this idea just got a little more interesting!
GM’s could start writing these types of things into the player’s contract. Maybe something like, “You will be eligible for a $500,000 bonus if you are one of the first 10 guys picked in the All-Star game. $250,000 if you are picked 10-25. If you’re selected after the 25th pick, you’re not much of an All-Star, are you?” Wait, that’s not a CBA thing, is it? Whatever—let’s make it happen. Chaos and hurt feelings, people!
At the end of the day, sure, let’s do it. I doubt people really care about the game in the first place, which is a bad thing. Do something about it. The fact that we’re talking about it in November means it’s already created more buzz than it has in more than a decade. Is it a good idea? Sure, why not. It adds more into it and the league can have a made-for-tv special to shop to their broadcast partners. Maybe they can even have Jim Gray moderate it.
Hey, it’s not like it’s going to determine home-ice advantage for the Cup Finals or anything. Now that would be crazy stupid.