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Of Mice and Men
Time to end the All-star game Rat Race
11/23/15 - By Ryan Hall -

Well, the NHL is at it again. Recently, they announced that the All-Star game format would be changing in order to inject some life and entertainment value into what has basically become a hollow and empty exercise. The current plan calls for three 20 minute 'mini-games' of 3-on-3 hockey, with each division assembling a squad to take part in a single loss elimination tournament. Basically, the winners of games #1 and #2 will meet in game #3 for all the bragging rights.

Consider me not impressed.

It's not the 3-on-3 that bothers me, but rather that we are getting further away from the whole point of this weekend: namely to give the fans access to the players. Under the new format all the best scorers will make the game, but what about players that excel at other aspects of hockey - such as keeping pucks OUT of the net.

Can you imagine being a goaltender in the all-star game now? Why even bother having them in there? Let's just dress some local high school or college players and let them get eaten alive for 20 minutes by the non-stop odd-man rushes and breakaways.

By switching to this new format the league has basically stated that the only real stars are players that put up points. No matter how talented a defender you might be, we want to see goals. No matter how skilled a goalie you are, we want to see you get beat, and often. In essence, this effectively excludes any other skill set besides scoring, which is a disservice to the game of hockey.

If you were to ask the league brass though, they'd say it's all about entertainment value, and in that they are correct. It's time to stop trying to make the all-star game mean anything (like MLB attempts), and to realize the players don't bear any pride in representing their continent, conference, or division. You think anyone is really excited that they'll be wearing a Pacific Division jersey at the all-star game?

So, maybe it's time to stop with the gimmicks and just have a game of hockey. Long ago the all-star game pitted the defending Stanley Cup Champions versus the league's best, so why not bring that back? It's a nice treat for the players that otherwise would never get that kind of exposure, and it might make for a few interesting moments of television.

It could even be kinda cool to see if the defending champs could beat a team of all-stars. If you think back a couple years, the Blackhawks and Kings would have been almost even money to win, especially since they would have been playing for their teammates and club - two things in which hockey players DO take pride. Add in possibility of the host city being the defending champs, and all of a sudden the possibilities begin to take off.

The other option is to just give up on the whole idea of an all-star game and accept that the only thing the fans want to see is the skills competition. In that case, why not make it part of the January 1st Winter Classic event by having the all-stars compete in the events in the early afternoon, and end the day with the outdoor game between two traditional rivals.

Everyone would have fun, and the NHL could stop wasting time and energy on something no one really cares about.

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