The NHL All-Star Game

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Did anybody really miss the NHL All-tar Game?

Since there is no NHL All-Star game this year, because of the lockout shortened season, I figured I’d talk about the game instead.  I have never been a fan of the NHL All-Star game but it has always been a nice mid-season break for the league and players.  The game itself for the most part is boring and uninteresting even though there are probably 12 to 20 goals scored. 


The game is a celebration and is suppose to showcase the NHL’s best.  I think most fans would agree that the best part of the All-Star break now is the “Skills Competition”.  I think that this was a great idea and what makes it real for me is the players actually compete while having fun.  The “Skills Competition” might be more popular now than the game itself.  Part of my apathy towards the game is twofold.  The noncompetitive nature of the game and the way the word All-Star gets thrown around so loosely today.  NHL teams, reporters and commentators covering the league throw out the term All-Star too liberally for my liking.

Choosing the  All-Stars and the game itself has evolved over the years from its earliest format where the Stanley Cup Champions played the NHL All-Stars.  There would be a 1st and a 2nd All-Star team named and it was quite an honor to be named to either.  That meant for that season there was 2 centers, 2 right wingers, 2 left wingers, 4 defencemen and 2 goalies named.  The game changed after expansion in 1967 and thru the 1970’s.  It would be the Campbell Conference vs the Wales Conference.  There have been many different formats but usually some format that involved an Eastern Conference vs Western Conference.  They tried a North America vs World team for 2 or 3 year also.  They have added the skills competitions and a rookie game and even players picking their own teams fantasy draft style.  There were times that every team had to be represented which made it challenging at times but that is now not the case anymore.  Then came the fan vote and the coaches would fill in the remaining players for the game which was still very challenging with 30 teams in the league.  

One of the things that I don’t like is that every player named to play in this game is called an All-Star.  Every player named to play as a replacement player in this game is called an All-Star.  Do you see where I am going with this?  This means that last year the NHL had approximately 50 All-Stars.

I know it’s a nice for PR and marketing, but when I hear an announcer say All-Star forward Milan Michalek or All-Star defenceman Dennis Wideman, I have to shake my head.  It really diminishes the stature of the term All-Star.  They are both decent hockey players but not my defenition of an All-Star.  Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, Paul Coffey, Dennis Potvin, Scott Niedermeyer, Chris Pronger, Brian Leetch, Nick Lidstrom, etc. etc. are All-Star’s and by throwing the term around the way they do today so casually cheapens their  accomplishments.

I want to acknowledge that the NHL has lots of terrific players and we know who they are for the most part.  I wouldn’t mind if they did a Western and Eastern Conference 1st and 2nd All-Star Team.  This would highlight the 12 best players in each conference and still make it meaningful to be recognized as well as keeping the number down to a more realistic number of 24.  It’s funny that hockey really doesn’t name an official All-Star team like the NFL or CFL or even MLB.  I searched the internet and found no record of an official All-Star team for last season.  Would you like to see the NHL name an official All-Star team or are you fine with the way it is now?  Do you think they should still have an All-Star game at all or just a “Skills Competition”

If you polled most NHL players they would probably prefer to take the time off and that’s probably why there are so many upper and lower body injuries come All-Star break time.

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