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WWYDW BONUS EDITION: How to make All-Star Weekend interesting

The NHL’s annual All-Star Weekend came and went and there’s a very good chance you didn’t pay any attention to it. If you did, you probably tuned into either the Skills Competition on Friday or the Three-on-Three Tournament on Saturday because there was nothing else on.

The reality is the NHL All-Star game is boring. This isn’t just an NHL thing. It’s the case for all of the major North American sports save for the NBA. The NBA’s big personalities cater to a spectacle like the All-Star game and the Slam Dunk Competition has always been a riot. The Pro Bowl is a disaster and I don’t think it’s ever been PVR’d once in its history. The MLB All-Star game was so boring that the league tried to force it to be relevant by letting the winner decide who gets home-field advantage in the World Series. That said, the Home Run Derby compensates for the MLB All-Star game being boring.

There’s been talk that the NHL and NHLPA might opt to scrap the game altogether. Still, while the All-Star game is far from perfect, it’s a staple in North American sports. It’s been going on for over 70 years now and simply removing it seems like a poor way to treat a tradition. Being selected to an All-Star game adds value to a player’s legacy and it’s the only time during the season where the league’s best come together to be celebrated. I feel like the All-Star game has brought us some great memories and pictures from the past and scrapping it would rob us of more in the future.

At this stage of the season, players want to enjoy a break and it’s hard to get them to try hard to make the All-Star game interesting. That brings us to this weekend’s What Would You Do Wednesday BONUS EDITION question. How do you make All-Star Weekend interesting?

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a few creative formats used to generate interest in the All-Star game. For a few years, the league did a gym class style draft, in which two captains did a fantasy draft to put together their teams. We got funny moments like Phil Kessel sitting by himself before being selected last and a Kessel for Seguin trade, but the game itself was still dull as ever. The league then switched to a three-on-three tournament, which was exciting at first but has since become repetitive. There used to be a write-in fan vote to get random players to the All-Star game, but the NHL couldn’t handle the hilariousness of John Scott being named a captain, so they scrapped that.

The Skills Competition is pretty good, I think. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it functions as a chance for players to show off a little personality, much like the Dunk Competition and the Home Run Derby. Even if the NHL wanted to scrap the game, the Skills Competition is still something that could continue to exist. Some events like the passing challenge aren’t overly interesting, but the fastest skater and the shootout are always a good time. You could spice things up further by adding wacky stuff like…

  • Bubble hockey. It’s a staple of intermission entertainment around the league. Get players to play a game with those big bubble suits on.
  • Dodgeball. Get a different sport into the mix and have players throw balls at each other. The Florida Everblades of the ECHL did this with Rob Gronkowski.
  • 3 vs 100. Have 100 kids play a game against three players. Three professional soccer players did this and it was wild.
  • Get fans in the mix. If the NHL wants to remove the three-on-three tournament, some rendition of it can be kept alive in the skills competition. Imagine bringing fans who trash talk on Twitter on the ice to play with against NHL players.
  • Goalie and player switch. I feel bad for the goalies in the shootout because the entertainment value of the event involves them getting lit up. Have players throw on the pads and see what happens.

The more difficult of All-Star Weekend is the game itself. As I said earlier, it’s hard to get the players to try hard and make these games intense because they’re all hungover and nobody wants to get injured in a meaningless game. Maybe the All-Star game could be more of a spectacle in a different way.

  • Do it as an outdoor game. One thing the NHL has done right in recent years is their outdoor games. They produce cool jerseys and put on incredible outdoor spectacles year after year in different locations. Maybe the All-Star game would be cooler is it was outside.
  • Play the game in Europe. Maybe fans in North America don’t care about the All-Star game, but I bet European fans would enjoy it. The league is actively trying to expand its global presence so maybe it would be worthwhile to use the All-Star game to do so.
  • Bring back World v. North America. This was a thing the NHL implemented in the late-90s and did for a few years to add more intensity and pride to the All-Star game. If you wanted to keep the three-on-three tourney style thing, you could take a page from the World Cup of Hockey book and do Canada, the United States, Europe, and a rookie team.
  • Just let the fans pick everyone. I mean, it is about the fans, right? John Scott’s inclusion in the game was easily the best moment of the past decade and the league actively tried to make it not happen. Forget including one guy from each team and let the fans go wild.
  • Have an NHL All-Stars v. KHL All-Stars game. This would be wild. In 1987, the NHL did Rendez-vous ’87, in which the NHL All-Star team played against the Soviet Union squad. It would spice up a bit of a rivalry between the two leagues.

What say you, Nation? How do you spice up All-Star Weekend? Is it salvageable? Should it just stay the way it is? 

  • 1. Don’t get too gimmicky – I enjoy seeing the best show off their skills
    2. Do 2 of the skills Friday, along with the preliminary games of the 3 on 3 tourney. Then do rest of skills comps on Saturday followed by the final of the 3 on 3 tourney.
    3. Make the voting/player selections as much about the skills as 3 on 3 so players like Shea Weber can be candidates for hardest shot. Teams are about winning the entire competition, not just 3 on 3 game. Could get more players there, and deserving players not snubbed like Marner for Leafs.
    4. When NWHL and CWHL merge (they will) invite some of their best to be regular participants with the men.
    Personally, I enjoy the skills as much or more than the 3 on 3 so I’d like it to have equal weighting and see more of the best make it.

    • Ted

      Exactly another reason Crosby should not get MVP … no participation in the skills competition he should be disqualified to be considered a candidate for MVP … ABC

  • SRELIOFAN

    I’ve always thought it would be cool to see the Goalie/Player switch. The goalies would love it and it would be entertaining as hell. You have some good ideas there Cam. Maybe you should shoot Bettman an email!

    • HOCKEY83

      I don’t think you want you’re top players ripping their groins playing goalie just to make the all star game interesting and fun. The all star week-end should just be deleted all together.

      • Heschultzhescores

        A bunch of insecure guys. They’d all be watching, I guarantee that. So would the women. It’s non-contact in an allstar game anyways. A perfect opportunity to give the ladies a showcase. Don’t worry guys, they’re not taking over the NHL.

  • Ted

    Best part was Bebe Rexha … Sweet hips girl! … Those poor Sharks fans having to sit through that boredom of a hockey display! Beer pong is more entertaining! Hmmmmmm!! …. A shooter tutor would have been better than Gibson!

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    The John Scott all-star game wa the best one I’ve seen. It was fun to see 3-on-3 for the first time, and having John Scott there made it a feel good story, even though John is the last person you’d pick for an All-Star. And maybe that’s what it should be. Just have non-All Stars take part. Throw in a few legit All-Stars in there to make it interesting.

    • Hockey Forever

      I attended that “John Scott” all-star game. It was amazing.

      The All-Star Weekend is great for those that can actually attend, other than that… meh…

  • bwar

    I liked them drafting the teams. Kinda fun and then you don’t end up with as many bitter rivals being teammates for the day. It’s just weird seeing Gaudreau and McDavid playing together.

    Have each team select an honorary member. Would have been cool to see the lady who participated in the skills competition to have been part of the game.

    Have some more solid criteria for All-Star invites. Top ten scorers should all be there. Change it so no team can have more than 2 players.

    Skill competition shouldn’t be limited to the players in the All-Star game. I want to know who actually has the hardest shot, is the faster skater, has the sickest dangles, etc.

  • Datsyukian

    I know it sounds crazy, so trashes are welcome (LOL) but maybe they should think about making the All Stars game meaningful by having teams and/or players earn points toward their real NHL standings or something. I dunno…for instance, the points scored in an All-Star game get added to the player’s NHL stats (or maybe in 2-1 proportion or something). Or if more than 3 players from one team score or win a skills competition, that team gets a bonus point in the standings. I’m just throwing out some admittedly crazy examples but what do you think about the idea itself – make the All-Star weekend meaningful by having its results matter in the real NHL competition in some way or other?

  • Serious Gord

    Davis cup format – make teams based in nations or groups of nations.
    or

    Pay huge money for individual achievements – $100,000 per goal, 50,000 per assist. $250000 for best save percentage.

    $25000 for every + in +/- etc.

    Format is irrelevant if it doesn’t motivate the players…

    • Serious Gord

      Back when there were five teams to draw upon for the remaining teams it made sense. Now there would be 31. I think the rest of the league might dominate.

      • Gravis82

        It would, but it would be fun to watch. Plus, the cup team would have to actually play like a real team to not get killed, which would make the all stars have to play that way too. There would be an incentive for them up team to not get destroyed, they went to war together, they would not give an inch