The NHL officially announced a set of radical changes to the format of its annual All-Star Game on Wednesday. It’s an obvious effort to invoke some sense of fan interest in the stagnant occasion, and not a bad idea given the rise in popularity of other mid-season events like the Winter Classic. We took a long hard look at the changes and realized that there could have been even more tweaking to the format.
Here are Houses of the Hockey’s recommendations for All-Star Game changes:
- Just because Eric Staal was awarded a banner for his 2008 all-star selection, and commemorative banners are to be just handed out at will – the RBC Center in Raleigh must raise a banner for every 2010-11 All-Star Game representative.
- In place of a single game, split the arena into two halves and hold a 3-on-3 tournament at each end with one goalie per contest.
- Fox introduced their infamous FoxTrax glowing puck during the 1996 All-Star Game. In an effort to make the game more palatable for American hockey fans, we’d like to see a similar technology used that would highlight both Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin while they’re on the ice.
- Just like the selection of All-Star teams is going to take place with a captain’s draft, we would like to see the game presentation subject to a similar draft. Everything from the network presentation style, commentators, and intermission crew, right down to which pinhead gets to sit between the benches with the headset. Selection will be captain style, too, Ron McLean’s crew versus Mike Milbury’s. There’s so many angles that could develop, we could witness Versus airing the all-crazy team featuring Rick Jeanneret and Bob Cole handling the play-by-play, Brian Engblom’s hair could have its own segment, and we could even have Mike Peca berating the play of current all-stars during the intermission.
- Any breakaway during the All-Star Game must be accompanied by an Owen Nolan-esque call of the shot. Failure to do so will result in a game misconduct, successful attempts at calling a shot will be worth 2 goals.
- Add a classic schoolyard activity like “chicken” to the skills competition. Have a stationary Martin Brodeur set up along the end boards and test his courage against an endless barrage of slap shots.
- Allow Jeremy Roenick to play, regardless of the status of his retirement. In addition, he must be mic’d up at all times. Hell, don’t even let him take a shift, just let him talk.
- Erect a “Be Like the Pros” station outside the arena where fans have a chance to reenact the off-ice exploits of their favourite NHL All-Stars. For a nominal fee, fans can step into the back of a replica Buffalo cab and slam the driver in the chops when he doesn’t present your 20 cents change, just like Patrick Kane. Pound rum and cokes like Dion Phaneuf and butcher Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” in a packed karaoke house. Devour chicken wings and pitchers of beer before driving your friend home in your Ferrari and then… OK, maybe nix that one.
- Expand the NHL skills competition to include a Mortal Kombat style tournament for goons, and introduce a hardest hitters contest where participants slam into crash test dummy models crafted to resemble such infamous targets as Eric Lindros, Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron, and Paul Kariya.
- Precede the NHL All-Star Game with a contest that features the AHL’s most recent Calder Cup champion versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, with the loser being exiled to the ECHL, of course.
- Create a hockey hair All-Star Game that features the best mops, lids, pompadours, and greasy strands the game has ever witnessed. No helmets, it’s like a 60 minute salad skate.
- Sweaters for the actual All-Star Game will be jerseys from forgotten NHL teams like the Minnesota North Stars, Quebec Nordiques, Atlanta Flames, Hartford Whalers, Phoenix Coyotes, and Colorado Rockies, etc.
- Have a game on Saturday that features all unsigned yet not retired NHL players split into two squads. The game’s MVP wins a contract with Glen Sather’s New York Rangers worth 6x his actual market value.
That’s our take, what kind of changes to the All-Star Game would you like to see?