Marek on NHL: All-Star game still valuable

So what is this thing?

It’s a hockey weekend designed specifically for kids and sponsors.

And that’s it.

It’s a way for the Shield to say “thanks” to those who help keep the lights on and a great place for kids to see all of their stars in the same place. This won’t hit home for you until you go to one of these events and see the looks on kids’ faces when they see all their favourite star players under one roof.

Is it a great TV event? Probably not. Although the skills competition certainly is. But realistically this is just a fun couple of hours and that’s it.

If you expect the game itself to be an event that resembles what we all understand as hockey, you will be greatly disappointed. There’s not a chance any player is going to risk injury by hitting, blocking a shot or doing anything that would put them in harm’s way.

And I think it’s foolhardy to think otherwise.

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If you want to make the All-Star Game competitive (and nobody really does) we should put something significant on the line.

How about this? No escrow for all the players on the winning team. Put that on the line and these guys will steamroll each other.

We’ve come a long way since Gordie Howe fought Gus Mortson in the 1948 All-Star Game and then scrapped with Mike Walton in 1968. That was back in the day where the defending Stanley Cup champions would challenge an all-star team each season and now there’s just not the same intensity to these games.

It’s just not that exciting anymore.

Look, to coin an old, well-worked cliché, it is what it is. It’s a fun weekend. I don’t know about you but I go into the All-Star weekend every year expecting to see the world’s best pick-up game. And that’s kind of what this is, no? All that’s lacking is throwing the sticks in the middle to pick teams.

Is it time to scrap the game?

Absolutely not.

Although considering who ends up on the various teams is based more on popularity but there is still plenty of value in bringing together the greats of the game for a weekend celebration at just over the midway point of the season.

Further, I’ve never understood all the grousing about the game. It’s not as if anyone is obliged to watch it or that it impacts anyone’s team in any way. It doesn’t devalue the sport or denigrate the athletes. The only downside to an elite game of pickup is for the goaltenders who are the only ones who risk injury.

If you don’t like it, treat it as a weekend off. Just tune out.

Like Alex Ovechkin.