How do we improve the NHL All-Star Game? (PHT Roundtable)
NHL All-Star Weekend has come and gone for 2018 and now we count the days until next year’s event at HP Pavilion in San Jose. While we wait, the PHT staff has some ideas on how to improve the event for 2019. Let us know your ideas in the comments.
SEAN LEAHY: The most successful addition to NHL All-Star Weekend was the fantasy draft in 2011. Then we had the 3-on-3 divisional tournament idea in 2016, which injected much needed life into the event (Thanks, John Scott!). The current format doesn’t appear to be going anywhere and has brought some competitiveness to the games, especially with $1 million on the line.
Unfortunately, the fantasy draft went away, but bringing it back would provide added value to the weekend. It’s an event to fill the Friday night slot before the Skills Competition and would allow fans to see even more personality from the players -- even if they may be a little sauced up, thanks to an open bar.
Let fans vote for the starting lineup for each of the four divisions with the top-vote getters being named captain. The host team would be one of the four captains regardless of the final tally. Then you get the players on a stage again to hold a snake draft and allow trades to further make things entertaining.
The game itself isn’t often the highlight of the weekend. The Skills Competition has traditionally held that title, and for three years it was the fantasy draft. Let’s see that again.
JAMES O’BRIEN: The fantasy draft is all that really matters to me, preferably with players enjoying “some refreshments.” It’s a glorious occasion, with the Skills Competition also providing oodles and noodles of fun.
Really, the specifics of the All-Star Game itself are mostly immaterial, because do you really want to make that game important? Look at the MLB; they’ve strained a hamstring making theirs waaaay too important. Imagine if the All-Star Game decided who has home ice during Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final instead of the better record and feel that vein pumping in the side of your head.
If you must, though: East vs. West, every team represented. 3-on-3 is fine with me if it doesn’t call for more snubs, but again, the other stuff is what makes this weekend fun.
[A simple request for future NHL All-Star Skills Competitions]
ADAM GRETZ: I think the obvious answer here is to blend the two best ideas they have had into one really good idea: The 3-on-3 mini-tournament, with a fantasy draft to build the teams.
Fans vote for All-Stars the way they always do with the top four vote-getters across the league being the captains that will pick their teams.
I think the 3-on-3 idea is the one that produces what has been -- by far -- the best quality game. Even if the players aren’t going at 100 percent like they would in a regular season or a playoff game or any game that matters, the nature of the 3-on-3 matchup is so wide open and fast paced that it is still exciting. Then you add in the fantasy draft component which was still one of the funniest things the league has done and gave us our best chance to see player’s real personalities. Now you’re just doubling the fun with four captains instead of two.
JOEY ALFIERI: The NHL has changed up the All-Star Game a few times, but they’ve tried their best not to make players get too uncomfortable. One new way to change things up would be to randomly select what position players will play. It might be unrealistic to imagine a forward playing goalie, but they should give it a try.
Have an All-Star draft like they did a few times. Once a player is selected by one of the captains, the player chosen will then randomly be assigned a position. Imagine Brent Burns as a goalie, or Phil Kessel playing goalie. Now that would be awesome. A player could get lucky and get his original position, but imagine if he had to play with someone who was out of position. A defense pairing of Erik Karlsson and Carey Price would be pretty cool.
It might not be a realistic option, but it would definitely get more hardcore hockey fans watching the game because it would take players out of their comfort zone. Let’s make it happen!
SCOTT BILLECK: I like the 3-on-3 format on the ice, but I’d like to see it be a little more meaningful. Money is nice, but these guys make enough money that a little spit in the bucket isn’t going to make a big difference.
The 3-on-3 format has been exciting when something is on the line.
Make a trophy. Engrave the names of the winners. Players are inherently competitive. Give them a reason to compete.
I don’t believe it’s possible to go the baseball route, where the winning conference, in this case, would get home ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Final. Hockey is a contact sport and no owner is going to sign on off for allowing their players to play a heated game.
As for the Skills Competition, bring back those things that made it fun. Keep Saturday as fun as it can be.
Best shootout goal - kind of like the slam dunk contest. Rate the goals. Let Ovi and Subban dress up. Let it be fun for the fans and the players. Saves are nice and all, but people want to see great goals.