N.H.L. All-Star Game Should Show-Case the Best That Hockey Has to Offer
All-Star Weekend is a chance for the National Hockey League to showcase this great game and all of its aspects. Currently, the All-star game itself is, well, monotonous. As fun as the weekend is said to be, if I were just new to the game of hockey, and the all-star game was the first hockey game I ever watched, I would probably never watch hockey again. No defense, leaving the goalies hung out to dry, no hitting, and worst of all, no passion. BORING! What the N.H.L. should do to show-case hockey is this: Have a "Show-Case" weekend, rather than an "All-Star" weekend. Let us still have a skills competition on Saturday night, where the league's most talented players show what they can do with their speed, power, accuracy and finesse. I would change a few aspects of this skills competition, but that is for another blog on another day.
Where I want to focus is on the all-star game itself. This game is in need of a total facelift. What the league should do is have 2 games on Sunday. These two games would be regular season games, so the scheduling would have to be worked out, but since the N.H.L. has games in Europe, I am sure that this would not be too hard to do. The key is to make these 2 games the only games of the weekend. Furthermore, these games would act as a double-header afternoon game and evening game both resonating from the host-team's home arena.
Game 1: The Rivalry Game:
This is a game involving the host team and a team that the fans vote for the home team to play against. This takes care of two things. First, the home-town fans get to see all of their favorite home-town players. Second, the fans get a say as to who the host team plays. The fans can vote on a team to see on "show-case" weekend, rather than individual players. Furthermore, for the sake seeing a good rivalry, the league should have a final say in who plays in the game, in case the fans vote in a dud team. Because this game is for regular season points, the fans will be treated to a REAL hockey game! What would be better for hockey if this year, the Toronto Maple Leafs were voted to play the Montreal Canadiens? Imagine the entertainment of this great, storied, and newly ignited rivalry on a North American stage? Now that is Entertainment!
Game 2: The Contenders Game:
This game would pit the two current conference leaders against one another (as of a certain date, of course). As it stands right now, the head coaches of the all-star teams are those whose teams are leading their respective conferences. Why not have the entire rosters of these two teams make the trip to the host city? This again would be a game for regular season points. As an added incentive, why not do what baseball does and give the winning team's conference home ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Finals? Nothing would be better than seeing the two best teams in the league play with something meaningful on the line. I would have loved to see the Boston Bruins battle the San Jose Sharks this year. What better to sell the game with than watching (arguably, of course) the two current best club teams in the world beat the hell out of each other?
Now I understand that there would be some issues with this. For example, home ice revenues and the balance of home vs. away games for the teams involved. However, with a little bit of creative scheduling and perhaps some league financial incentive the issues should not be too much to get around. Take all of the marketing and hype of the all-star game, and promote these two games, as well a skills competition involving all of the league's most talented competitors. Give the die-hard fans something to cheer for, and give the fans that are new to the game a chance to see what hockey is really all about. An intense rivalry, as well as the current best two teams in hockey? Nothing could possibly do a better job of selling the game!