It was talked about all season long; the new format, the fan balloting, the injured players who would not be able to compete. Then in the blink of an eye the NHL All-Star weekend came and went, leaving many to wonder if it really was all that it’s cracked up to be.
The events leading up to the game -the fantasy draft and the skills competition- were as exciting as they were anticipated to be (minus a few minor flaws) but the game itself turned out to be another snooze fest.
With 21 goals being scored in an 11-10 victory in favour of Team Lidstrom the newly formatted game was no different than previous years. The last two games also ended with a margin of only one goal.
The biggest blowout in All-Star history was back in 1993 when the Wales Conference defeated the Campbell conference 16-6. Since then there has not been much to write home about.
The skills competition had its moments: PK Subban hamming it up for the crowd donning Jeff Skinner’s jersey for the breakaway challenge, Alex Ovechkin tripping over a microphone cable and then breaking his stick during the hardest shot event, and Zdeno Chara breaking his own record for the league’s hardest shot.
Even with all the excitement, the skills competition just seemed to drag on far too long. In future goalies should not participate in the fastest skater event (we all know they aren’t going to win anyways) and the skills challenge relay should be eliminated.
Accuracy shooting, hardest shot and elimination shoot out should remain the same.
The breakaway challenge, while exciting for the fans and participants, is not a skill necessary to the game. Never will a team win a hockey game because a player used the fanciest move on a breakaway, even if they didn’t score. Because it is an exciting event it should stay in the skills competition, but should be reduced to two attempts per player instead of four.
Ovechkin opened the scoring at RBC Center just 50 seconds into the game as Team Staal took an early 4-0 lead. Team Lidstrom stormed back to tie things up by the end of the first period.
Loui Eriksson’s second of the night, on an empty net, would ultimately be the game winning goal. Also scoring two goals were Anze Kopitar and Danny Briere for Team Lidstrom and Eric Staal and Kris Letang for Team Staal.
Chicago Blackhawk Patrick Sharp took home Most Valuable Player honours.
Here are some suggestions for the future of the NHL All-Star Game:
1. Use the same format for the player pool selection: Fans get to vote for six players (three forwards, two defencemen, and one goalie) regardless of their conference and the rest of the All-Stars are selected by the NHL Hockey Operations, NHL Players Association and General Managers. The teams are not divided until an hour before game time. All the players’ sticks are piled up at centre ice and are then tossed to each side creating teams. This would really make it a “schoolyard” game.
2. Go back to the format of pitting the Stanley Cup champions against a team of All-Stars.
“Well, nobody liked anybody, eh?” Chicago Blackhawks legend Glenn Hall told the Montreal Gazette. “Especially when the all-stars played against the Stanley Cup winner (before the season had begun). That created a better situation for good, tough hockey.”
3. Move the game back to the beginning of the season instead of closer to the end. Players will be more likely to give a stronger effort earlier in the season when the playoffs are not in the near future.
4. Scrap the All-Star game entirely, but keep the skills competition. It’s always fun to see who the best in each category is, but the All-Star game is becoming a boring game of ping-pong.