This season, the NHL is instituting a new format to the All Star Game. The 6 players who receive the most fan votes (Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and Marc-Andre Fleury) are in, and yesterday, the NHL Department of Hockey Operations revealed their selections. Those All Stars will now elect two captains, and they will pick the rosters in a fantasy / sandlot format.
I love the idea. It's great. It's unique, and for a league that is desperately trying to gain fans, it's almost perfect...almost.
Two changes would make it PERFECT.
Change 1 - The Captains : Instead of the selected All Stars selecting the captains, the annual captains should be the captain of the defending Stanley Cup Champions vs the captain of the Hosting All Star city's team. In this case, Jonathan Toews vs Eric Staal.
While Eric Staal is not a huge draw nationally, it will give the home crowd a team to root for, and have genuine enthusiasm in supporting. The TV audience will tune in to a game with a real rooting All Star Game crowd. In my opinion, the apathy for All Star Games comes from the apathy of the fans. If the crowd is bored, so is the TV audience.
I'm sure some people will argue that not all NHL captains are All Star material. This may be true, but that will make the home fans ever MORE enthusiastic. A player like Ethan Moreau, who was captain of the Edmonton Oilers last season , is far from an elite offensive talent, but he's a grinder. Fans love grinders.
Change 2 - Select the rosters on the ice before the game : Fans will react to each and every pick, and shout out their picks as the team is being picked. It will create the true atmosphere of the pond hockey game. Even if the players are pre-selected, "announce" the picks ON THE ICE. The fans will eat it up, both in the arena and on TV.
These small tweaks to the new format will make the All Star Game the spectacle it should be. Regardless, the NHL is trying to do the right things, and is heading in the right direction.
Filed under: Blackhawks, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Sports, danny mac show, duncan keith, Eric Staal, hockey, jay zawaski, jonathan toews, nbc, NHL, NHL All Star Game, Patrick Kane, patrick sharp, sports, wscr