This year’s NHL All-Star Game will take place in sunny Tampa Bay. The weather may be the only positive thing that comes out of the game.
The National Hockey League will continue to embarrass itself and the tradition of the game when it holds its 63rd All-Star Game on Sunday, Jan. 28 at Amalie Arena, home to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Puck drop for this..thing … is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET.
It’s an embarrassment, of course, because the format will be the same as the one introduced in 2016. Two Divisions will play a 20-minute, three-on-three game before the next two divisions play in another three-on-three game, The two winners will meet to play for a $1 million prize in the final, another—you guessed it—20-minute, three-on-three game. Any tie games will be decided by a shootout.
How did the All-Star Game, which is meant to showcase the best sport in the world, wind up becoming, yet again, a drill that occurs in most team’s practices?
The NHL has had issues over the years with the All-Star Game due to the lack of hitting and insanely high-scoring games. The “gentleman’s agreement’ on trying to limit physical play is understandable, as no coach or general manager wants to see their players get hurt in a meaningless game. But with that, scoring increased substantially.
In 2011, for the 58th NHL All-Star Game in Raleigh, NC, the NHL changed how the teams would be divided, going with a fantasy draft. Two captains would choose their teams on live television, the same way as when they were kids playing pond hockey. It added a little flair to the way the teams were drawn up, but with the same traditional five-on-five game.
For some reason, the NHL decided they didn’t like that and, in 2016, went to the horrifying three-on-three format. The game is still high scoring and still features no defense or hitting. It’s basically an offensive skills competition.
Isn’t that what the NHL Skills Competition, held Saturday, is for? Drills testing players speed and agility, along with goaltending competitions, target shooting competitions, hardest shot competitions and the breakaway drill are all fantastic ways to showcase the league’s talent. The skills competition was a great idea—it turned the All-Star Game into an All-Star Weekend.
Unfortunately, the main star, the game itself, has taken a back seat.
The NHL is the only sport of the big four to significantly alter its All-Star Game format. It makes no sense. It’s nonsense, in fact, as the game they’re playing isn’t actually a game at all.
Did the NHL really have to justify the high scoring in the All-Star Games of the past? Did they really think the fans in the arena and watching across the country on television had no concept of why the score was so high every year? Has anyone seen the NBA All-Star Game recently? In case you missed it, last year’s final score was West 192, East 182. The teams combined to score nearly 400 points! Yet I don’t see the NBA changing anything anytime soon. Actually, they took a page from the NHL and implemented a fantasy draft this season.
The NHL needs to return the All-Star game back to its tradition. Let the fans witness and enjoy the game the way it should be played. Stop the insanity!