The NHL has never shied away from making changes to its all-star game format, and this year is no exception.
Gone is the Fantasy Draft scenario where two captains take turns selecting their teams.
This year, the NHL’s four divisions will face-off against each other in a 3-on-3 mini-tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nasvhille.
With the game set to take place on Jan. 31, here’s everything you need to know about this year’s event.
What’s new this year?
As mentioned above, the NHL has ditched the previous format in which two captains (one of them being from the host city), picked their teams one-by-one in a Friday night draft, before playing a full 60-minute game on Sunday.
This year, the event will feature four teams, one representing each of the league’s four divisions, with each squad consisting of six forwards, three defencemen and two goalies.
Two semi-finals will be played to determine the conference winners (Atlantic vs. Metropolitan, Central vs. Pacific.), before the winners square off in a final.
Each game will feature one 20-minute period, followed by the standard three-round shootout should the game be tied after regulation.
Why the change?
Probably because the NHL, and fans, weren’t too impressed with Team Toews’ 17-12 victory over Team Foligno last year in Columbus.
In the hopes of providing some additional incentive to win this year, players will be competing for $1 million in prize money to be split among the winning team (just shy of $91,000 per player).
There will still be plenty of goals, but the hope is that at least some of the excitement being generated from 3-on-3 overtime (which has debuted this year to much success), will be captured with the new format.
How were the teams selected?
Under the previous format, the two captains were chosen by the league, while fans got to select three forwards, two defencemen and a goalie to be thrown into the draft.
This year, fans were asked to vote for the captains of each division, with the rest of the teams still to be filled out by the NHL.
The results were interesting.
Alex Ovechkin is one of the most marketable personalities in the NHL, and is having yet another stellar season. He is a fine choice as captain of the Metropolitan Division.
Much of the same could be said for Patrick Kane, who leads the league in points and whose on-ice performance has him in place to lead the Central Division.
Then the fans went ahead and voted enforcer, and frequent healthy scratch, John Scott to captain the Pacific Division.
Who will the coaches be?
The coach of each division-leading team following the completion of all games on Jan. 9, will be behind the bench in Nashville.
Atlantic: Gerard Gallant
Metropolitan: Barry Trotz
Central: Lindy Ruff
Pacific: Darryl Sutter
Will there still be a skills competition?
But unlike the game itself, the skills competition will remain an East vs. West battle.
You can expect to see the usual classic events such as fastest skater, hardest shot, most accurate shot, along with more modern events such as the skills relay and the breakaway challenge.
When will the game be played?
The skills competition is scheduled for Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. ET, while the game itself is Jan. 31 starting at 5 p.m. ET.
Where can I watch it?
The festivities will be broadcast live on television. Tune in to Sportsnet and check the start times all weekend here.