By Zachary Cormier
Remember when the National Hockey League’s All-Star Game used to be fun? When it used to feature the best players from the Eastern and Western Conferences battling it out on a Saturday afternoon?
The NHL doesn’t.
The All-Star game in recent years has become somewhat of a sideshow. The teams are picked in a sort of fantasy draft format like kids pick teams on a school yard. Goalies do interviews during play, there’s some sort of bizarre set piece every single whistle. It’s just a mess.
Basically the game itself has become little more than a pickup game of hockey played by the best players on earth, which sounds like a lot of fun and yet the game’s TV ratings have been plummeting in recent years.
The problem is that the players treat it like a pick up game. They simply do not care about the outcome, meaning they don’t put any effort in at all, making the game basically unwatchable.
But fear not, the NHL has a solution!
About a month ago, the league announced they would be replacing the traditional All-Star game with a three on three All-Star tournament.
So now, instead of the players just choosing teams like kids, which was kind of fun, they’ll be playing hockey like kids, which is somewhat less fun.
This is one of those decisions that just makes no sense to me.
The game’s ratings are falling because both the players and fans consider it to be too gimmicky. So what’s the solution?
Apparently doubling down and changing the rules of hockey completely to make it even more gimmicky.
I mean, I had my issues with the fantasy draft system. The fact the players are randomly mixed left me kind of puzzled as to who I should be cheering for.
But at least it was hockey.
For me, the All-Star game is supposed to be the best players going mono a mono in a real hockey game to see who is the best of the best.
It is not to watch Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, and Taylor Hall pretend to be enjoying themselves while playing 3-on-3.
For me, the NHL should have back-tracked. Bring back the old east-west games. The NBA and MLB both have very successful All-Star weekends and both run on an inter-conference or inter-league format because it gives the players something to identify with.
And make the game mean something.
The winning league of the MLB’s All-Star game gets the prize of home field advantage during the World Series. That’s a big deal, so the best baseball players in the world put everything they have into the game. It’s fantastic to watch.
If the NHL did something like that, I can’t help but think the players would actually want to show up without the NHL having to threaten them with suspension if they don’t.
It’s an idea that’s been put forward time and again and the response is always the same.
‘It’s a contact sport and we don’t want to risk injuring the star players,’ the critics say.
Hockey is a contact sport. Always has been and, hopefully, always will be.
Take the risk, or put it in the rules that the All-Star game is non contact.
But something’s gotta give because if I see one more All-Star game end 17-12 because the goalies checked out five minutes in I think I might burst.