Thursday, January 22, 2009

The NHL All-Star Game

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This is an article I wrote for Versus...


All-Star Game fulfills fans’ fantasies.

By Corey Johnson,

Since the lockout, there has been a great debate on whether or not the NHL should continue the All-Star Game.

In recent years, injuries have been a big deal when it comes to the All-Star game, with some of the biggest stars missing the game itself due to being injured.
Injuries have also occurred during the All-Star game, as in the case of Rick Dipietro, who is still suffering the effects of playing in the 2008 All-Star game.
While those against the game have valid points, taking the NHL All-Star game away from the fans is something the league cannot do.

Fantasy sporting leagues are at their peak, and the NHL All-Star game is the one game a year where fans can see their fantasy rosters come to life.
Take Ilya Kovalchuk for example. He is one of the NHL’s best and most talented stars, but is unfortunately playing on an Atlanta team that hasn’t been able to surround him with other super-star talent. The All-Star game gives NHL fans a chance to see Kovalchuk at his best while surrounded by players such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Andrei Markov.

Another example would be a healthy Marian Gaborik, who plays on a defense-first team in the Minnesota Wild. Even on the Wild, Gaborik is a special player, but think about watching him on a powerplay that featured Patrick Kane, Joe Thornton and Nik Lidstrom?

The solution to the All-Star game is not to cancel it, but instead to freshen it up. Let’s change the format each year. One year, have the traditional East vs. West format. Follow it up the next year with a North America vs. the World format. Why not try the AHL’s format of Canada vs. the World the year after?

Changing the format of the All-Star game would just give the game a new twist each year, but would also allow for different line combinations.

Under the current format, we will never see Crosby and Thornton on the same team. Same goes for Malkin and Zetterberg, Kane and Ovechkin, etc. Switching the formats year after year would allow fans to see different players play together, which in turn keeps the game fresh every year.

The NHL-All Star break is a special time of year, and allows the fans of the game of hockey to really see the pure skill the NHL’s top stars possess. Keeping the All-Star game around is the right move as the NHL moves forward.