For years, the NHL All-Star game has been a ridiculously high-scoring affair with the pace of a peewee game. The worst part of the All-Star weekend, it’s turned into a joke of a game where the best hockey players in the world float around trying not to hurt themselves. The event is in desperate need of a facelift.
Which is exactly what the NHL is doing this year, by scrapping the much-loved fantasy draft in favor of a 3-on-3 divisional tournament. As anyone who has watched a minute of 3-on-3 overtime this year knows, the style makes for a much more exciting, fast-paced affair that just might suit the NHL All-Stars. The ice opens up considerably, creating room for plenty of shenanigans if the players want to fool around the whole time, and giving star players the opportunity to show off their skills. The NHL has also given the players something to play for, by offering a million dollar prize to the winning team. Even better, the league has just revealed their rosters for the game, and it’s definitely an improvement over last year’s, favoring charismatic skill players such as PK Subban and Erik Karlsson. The games will certainly be as high scoring as always, but guys like these could make them watchable just by showing off their skills and personalities.
The Central Division team, captained by Patrick Kane, features offensive superstars Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jonathan Toews and Matt Duchene. On the back end, they’ve gone with Dustin Byfuglien, Roman Josi and Shea Weber. Pekka Rinne and Devan Dubnyk will share the net.
The Pacific Division, which has been absolutely terrible this year, is represented, appropriately, by John Scott. He is joined by fun players such as Johnny Gaudreau, Taylor Hall, Joe Pavelski, Corey Perry and Daniel Sedin, whose twin brother will not be joining him in Nashville. On the back end, they have Brent Burns, Drew Doughty and Mark Giordano, and in net they have John Gibson and Jonathan Quick. One huge downside to Scott being voted in is that Arizona is already represented, so we don’t get to see Oliver Ekman-Larsson or Max Domi this year. Another notable snub was Dallas Stars defenceman John Klingberg, who is currently second in points among blueliners.
In the Metropolitan Division, Captain Alex Ovechkin will be joined by linemate Nicklas Backstrom, as well as Claude Giroux, Evgeni Malkin, Brandon Saad and John Tavares. On defense, they have Justin Faulk, Ryan McDonagh and Kris Letang, while Braden Holtby and Cory Schneider will share the net. It appears the NHL has finally given up on trying to get Sidney Crosby to participate in the game, and decided to simply leave him off the roster this year.
The Atlantic Division could end up being the most fun to watch, with charismatic players such as Jaromir Jagr, Steven Stamkos, Erik Karlsson, PK Subban and Roberto Luongo. They’re joined by Patrice Bergeron, Ryan O’Reilly, Dylan Larkin, Leo Komarov, Aaron Ekblad and Ben Bishop. Notable absences include Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, who would have been welcome additions in the skills competition especially.
The NHL All-Star weekend has always been a fun event that showcases the personalities of the league’s stars, and it’s nice to see the NHL finally acknowledge this. Hopefully, the 3-on-3 tournament and the choice of players will make for a more exciting game than the one we usually get.
The game will be played on Sunday, January 31st.