Let’s face it; most All-Star games suck! It’s become a paid vacation and salary bonus for most of the stars, and they don’t have any interest in actually playing for the fans’ enjoyment. Major League Baseball already “changed” their format. The NFL has almost canceled theirs altogether, and have discussed changes. The NBA’s All-Star format in general is horrible! The score of last year’s All-Star game was, 163-158. Sorry, I know we all like offense, but that’s just stupid and not worth watching. So, with every league searching for answers as to how to make their mid-season “break” better, what is the fourth ranked league saying?
The final cannon shot echoed through Nationwide Arena in Columbus. The 2015 NHL All-Star Game had concluded, a January afternoon of nearly unwatchable hockey, despite 29 goals between “Team Toews” and “Team Foligno.”
Donald Fehr, the executive director of the NHLPA, and John Collins, COO of the National Hockey League, met in Columbus and had a conversation about the event. What worked. What didn’t. What really didn’t.
Once the event tanked in the ratings, the seeds of that conversation took full bloom in an ongoing exchange of ideas between the players, the league and the game’s television partners.
“We sat down and we said that we don’t seem to be getting the bang for our buck at All-Star. Let’s reevaluate what we’re trying to do at All-Star,” said Mathieu Schneider, special assistant to the executive director of the NHLPA. “Everyone was in agreement that it needs to be something special and unique. It should be a great weekend for hockey, and it hasn’t seemed to be translating like that for the last few years.”
That sentiment was echoed by Tom Cigarran, owner of the Nashville Predators, who would host the next NHL All-Star Game in January 2016. The Predators have a hefty investment in All-Star Weekend, and the last thing the team wanted was for the lingering bad taste of the previous All-Star Game to dampen the enthusiasm for theirs.
“We felt very strongly that we wanted to make this the best All-Star Game ever. There was negative feedback about the All-Star Game, so why not make a change?” said Predators GM David Poile.
“And once we saw the 3-on-3 overtime format … for most hockey guys, general mangers or owners of the clubs as well as the players, we thought it was time to try something different and make it special.”
So what will this 3-on-3 format look like?
The new format will divide the All-Star game into three, 20-minute games, with players from each division making up the four All-Star teams: Pacific, Central, Atlantic, and Metropolitan. The weekend’s festivities will include the famous skills competition on Saturday, and then the All-Star tournament on Sunday, where players will face off against each other. What’s the biggest aspect to push the players to make this special? A winner-take-all $1 million pot to the winning team. Money motivates.
Here are more details, courtesy of the NHL:
- Each team will be made up of 11 players: six forwards, three defensemen and two goaltenders.
- The 2016 NHL All-Star Fan Vote will allow fans to vote for one All-Star player from each Division, without regard to position. The top vote-getter from each Division will be named NHL All-Stars, as well as Captain of his respective team.
- The remaining 40 NHL All-Stars will be named by the NHL Hockey Operations Department for a total of 44 All-Star players, with at least one player selected from each NHL team.
- Each game in the three-game, 3-on-3 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Tournament will be 20 minutes in length.
- Teams will change ends at the 10-minute mark of each game. Games that are tied after 20 minutes will be decided by a shootout.
- The Central Division All-Stars will face the Pacific Division All-Stars and the Atlantic Division All-Stars will face the Metropolitan Division All-Stars in the two Semi-Final games.
- The winners of each Semi-Final game will play each other in the All-Star Game Final to determine the overall tournament champion.
- The four division-leading NHL coaches (best points percentage following the completion of games on Jan. 9, 2016) will be named coaches for each of the four All-Star teams
With this being a very drastic change, and Flyers players haven’t been all that in favor of the newly-implemented 3-on-3 overtime, what do they have to say about this?
“It’s going to be exciting to play and exciting for the fans.It’s up-and-down hockey. There’s a lot of skill there.”
“It’s going to be more tiring. There’s pros and cons. It’s going to be exciting for the league. There’s a lot of guys there with skill and we’ll get to see what they can do in open ice.”
“Every time you have more ice, it’s better for you if you are skating well. Obviously, there is going to be a lot of skill.”
“It’s possible and it wouldn’t surprise me. But they have the best goalies in the world there so I’m sure they’re going to stop some.”
“It will be interesting to see what the scores are going to be for those games. It’s 20 minutes long. That’s a lot of opportunity for some goals. They may end up with a score like it was a normal All-Star Game in one period of play.”
“For an All-Star Game, that is probably what the format is meant for. It will be an exciting format. I read there’s money involved for the players. That’s a little more motivation to put forth more effort.”
“You play 3-on-3 and it’s a shot at one net, 2-on-1 the other way, then it goes back as a breakaway. It’s an exciting brand of hockey.
“I don’t think you want to do it all the time. Thank God they don’t do it in the playoffs. But it’s definitely exciting for the All-Star Game.”
“It’s a lot of skating and a ton of scoring. The final score probably be 30-20 or something like that. Guys are going to get tired quick. For the first part of it, it will be fire-wagon hockey and then guys are going to slow down a bit.”
Here is a podcast that talks all about the changes, and maybe some of the challenges it will present:
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I’m absolutely a fan. We will see more skill, more crazy scoring opportunities, and will truly see the in-game clutchness that these guys have. I’m ready for some dirty Giroux moves that will make jaws drop! [Ed. note: Yeah, if he, you know, makes the All-Star roster. Sick burn.]
What do you think? Let us know in the comments and on social media.