The NHL All-Star Game ain’t what it used to be.
All-Star weekend used to serve as an opportunity for fans to catch a glimpse of superstars from all over the league. Today, with cable sports packages and products like Rogers NHL Gamecentre Live, it’s relatively simple for fans to keep up with the NHL and its superstars.
The league has tried to keep the weekend’s festivities entertaining by introducing a player draft and by including rookies in the skills competition. Still, with the Winter Classic, Stadium Series, and the Olympic Games every four years, the All-Star Game has grown stale.
Here are four ways to make the All-Star Game and the weekend’s festivities better for fans.
Goals for charity
The last five All-Star Games have seen teams combine for an average of 20.2 goals per contest.
With all that scoring there’s real opportunity for some good will on behalf of the competing players and the NHL.
Let’s see the players designate some local and national charity organizations as benefactors for goals scored during the game. For every goal, the player who scored could make a donation and the league could match it.
Make it the Winter Classic
The Winter Classic is a meaningful regular season game played in generally lousy conditions.
The NHL All-Star Game is a meaningless exhibition played in a standard arena.
Why not combine the two and showcase the NHL’s most skilled players as part of the league’s annual outdoor game on New Year’s Day? The All-Star Game plays like a round of pond hockey shinny so it makes perfect sense to host it in shinny’s native setting outdoors.
Introduce a 4-on-4 tournament
The All-Star Game is all about fun and offence, so let’s stop pretending there’s any element of defence involved.
One alternative to a traditional game of hockey would be to have the players compete in a 4-on-4 tournament over the course of a few hours. Keep it simple with five minute games and have the final go 10 minutes.
The fan vote process could stand to designate team captains for a draft format similar to the one currently employed for All-Star weekend.
Fix the skills competition
The skills competition could use a makeover. Granted, the hardest shot, fastest skater, and accuracy shooting are a lot of fun and offer some entertainment value, but it’s murky beyond those competitions.
Save for a scoring system and the number of participants, there’s little in the way of difference between the breakaway challenge and the shootout. The skills challenge relay is best served as an opportunity to grab a snack and a cold beverage.
It’s time to trim the fat.
Keep the marquee events and toss away one of the breakaway competitions along with the relay.