Make the All-Star Game Great Again

Okay, maybe the All-Star game was never great, maybe I was just young and naïve. But the event seems to lack the luster that existed in my pre-teen days. Remember North-America vs. the World? Remember when Owen Nolan pulled a Babe-Ruth and told the Dominator where he was shooting, before roofing it for the hattrick?

Yeah, that was the shit.

Now? Well, now the NHL has something that technically doesn’t even qualify as the same sport with a divisional 3-on-3 tournament. Don’t get me wrong, I love 3-on-3 hockey as much as the next guy or gal, but everyone should step back and appreciate how nauseatingly gimmicky the All-Star game has become. Once the current format becomes stale, one has to wonder how much more creative the league can get to keep fans engaged. The powers that be think Kid Rock is the answer to drawing more interest, which should underscore just how dire the situation has become. The irony is that the NHL has already created the solution to their problem. It’s a good thing the NHO Show is here to point them in the right direction.

The Solution

Let me start by saying that All-Star games are inherently gimmicky and it’s difficult in any sport to get the purists to buy-in. In the NBA, no one plays defense. In contact sports like the NFL and NHL, there is limited contact to prevent injury. Only the MLB provides actual motivation for one side to win the All-Star game, with the winning conference getting home ice advantage for the World Series. One can argue the merit of this strategy and whether it would work in the NHL, but it’s definitely one way to make the game more interesting.

In hockey, the only time fans get to see best-on-best in a meaningful situation is at international tournaments – which is exactly where the idea for our new All-Star format comes from.

Under 25 vs. 25 & Over

More than ever, the NHL is a young man’s game. The amount of young talent in the league is incredible and these players deliver a brand of fast, skilled and exciting hockey. Taking a page out of Team North America from the World Cup, I propose that we do the same thing for the NHL All-Star game but include all nationalities and have a league-wide under 25 roster take on a squad of players 25 and older. Here’s a snapshot of what each of those teams might look like, given each player’s performance this season:

U25 Roster 

Gaudreau

MacKinnon

Kucherov

Matthews

McDavid

Draisaitl

Laine

Schiefele

Eichel

Huberdeau

Barkov

Pastrnak

HMs: Barzal, Boeser, Trocheck, Ehlers, Monahan, Rantanen

Lindholm

Jones

Rielly

McAvoy

Provorov

Hamilton

HMs: Parayko, Slavin, Gostisbehere, Ekblad

Vasilevsky

Hellebuyck

Gibson

I included more senior players (Draisaitl, Laine) in favor of some rookies that are currently out-producing them (Barzal, Boeser) because of chemistry, position and the fact that they will have more chances to make the team in the future.

25+ Roster

Tavares

Stamkos

Giroux

Ovechkin

Crosby

Kessel

Marchand

Kopitar

Wheeler

Hall

Malkin

Voracek

HMs: Bergeron, Kane, Tarasenko, Radulov

Hedman

Pietrangelo

Suter

Doughty

Karlsson

Klingberg

HMs: Subban, Josi, Burns, Carlson

Rinne

Rask

Lundqvist

HMs: Fleury, Quick, Crawford

Wow, that was tough. To avoid controversy up front, I went with the highest point/game totals and learned this along the way:

I understand under normal circumstances that Bergeron would likely draw in over Malkin, but this is an All-Star game. On defense I took the opposite approach, trying to make balanced pairings, especially since most defenders having great years are right handed.

Any way you slice it, I would watch that game. The game’s best young stars going toe-to-toe against the established superstars in the league? Sign me up. But, I know the NHL and since I am a stickler for details, let’s re-work these rosters to include a player from every team to appease the masses and match the current format.

Your 2018 NHL All-Star Teams

Factoring in injuries and team representation, here is the best list available:

Under 25

Gaudreau

MacKinnon

Kucherov

Matthews

McDavid

Boeser

Laine

Barkov

Eichel

Larkin

Draisaitl

Keller

Lindholm

Jones

Rielly

McAvoy

Provorov

Slavin

Vasilevsky

Hellebuyck

Gibson

25 and Over

Tavares

Stamkos

Giroux

Ovechkin

Crosby

Kessel

Hall

Kopitar

Wheeler

Marchand

Malkin

Kane

Subban

Pietrangelo

Suter

Burns

Karlsson

Klingberg

Fleury

Rask

Lundqvist

The young stars take a hit with few good veteran choices on the perennial struggling teams like Carolina, Arizona, and Detroit, whereas recurrent contending teams having down seasons still have a crop of established stars to choose from like Chicago with Kane and San Jose with Burns.

Either way, it’s still a game I would watch, and actually, get excited about in anticipation. The caveat to this format would be to make it bi-annual. Alternating this format with the current 3-on-3 tournament would not only keep each year fresh and exciting but it would also ensure that the rosters would be drastically different every other season.

What are your thoughts?

 

 

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