What is the Point of the NHL All-Star Game?
By Patrick Hoffman
While the National Hockey League is fond of tradition and doing everything it can to preserve it, one long-standing tradition that may have no actual value is that of the annual NHL All-Star Game.
The NHL All-Star game first came into existence during the 1947-48 season. Prior to that season, it was not called an all-star game but instead, was known as a benefit game.
Fast forward many, many season later and it is still around. With that said, it is not what it used to be and instead, has become more of a promotional and marketing tool for the NHL.
For starters, fans are a lot more involved when it comes to picking the all-star starters. Fans flock to ther favorite team's arens and stuff ballot boxes with their picks for the respective teams.
What did this result in? It resulted with John Scott being selected to the All-Star Game in 2016 and he even won the game's most valuable player award.
While I certainly loved the story and how it ended up, there is no way that Scott was an all-star calibre player. In fact, he was the complete opposite of that.
This is the main reason why fans should not be allowed to vote the starters. The starters should be six players who are the best at their position. The players who get selected should be guys who are on or close to the top on the leaderboard for goals, assists, points, goals against average, save percentage, shutouts, wins, etc.
Secondly, why did the league have to get rid of the Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format? These games always had a certain intrigue as each conference had the chance to show who had the better players.
Now, the NHL does it by divisions, which is very interesting made-for-television event. With that said, I do not think it brings much value.
It also seems like goaltenders are extremely susceptible to injuries in the skills competition. Back in 2000 at the NHL Skills Competition at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, it is known that former New York Rangers’ franchise goaltender Mike Richter hurt his groin.
After that, Richter was never the same the rest of the season and he eventually took himself out of the lineup in late March because of that injury. The same thing happened at the 2007-08 NHL All-Star game in Atlanta. New York Islanders’ fragile goaltender was having a terrific season until he injured his hip against then Minnesota Wild Marian Gaborik on a breakaway.
Speaking of the skills competition, that needs to stay. The fans get to see a world of talent on the ice at one time, the players have a ton of fun, and it is something that viewers always seem to enjoy the most out of the whole weekend.
While the NHL All-Star game is definitely a great way to market the game and its stars, it is tough to find any other value that the annual event has.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.