By: Sydney Fann
The NHL announced last year that the 2016 All-Star Game would be changing its formatting. The structure went from two teams of all stars playing in a regulation game to a 3-on-3 division vs. division tournament. When I first heard this change, I was very skeptical. I loved watching the All-Star Draft and all the hilarity that ensued from stars picking other stars to be on their teams. However, once I watched the tournament, I didn’t think it was all that bad.
With the changing of the structure of the big game also came the changing of a big aspect of the All-Star Weekend: the elimination of the All-Star Draft. Personally, I thought there was nothing wrong with electing a team captain for the two teams and watching them pick from the crowd of all stars who they wanted on their team. It made for an interesting watch, especially when a team captain had one of their regular season teammates and they waited until close to the end of the draft to pick them, or just not pick them at all. Perhaps the NHL thought the All-Star Weekend needed a fresh new thing to do, and maybe they thought the draft was becoming old news. Whatever the case, it seems it is never coming back.
Another thing the NHL changed this year for the All-Star Game was a fan elected captain for each division. I think this was a great idea considering fans couldn’t pick their players for the teams, so it allowed fans to still have some participation. I also think it’s a good idea because it allowed for events like John Scott to be the captain of the Pacific Division, which never would have happened if the league picked the captains. What I thought was a bad move by the League as a response to this was calling out John Scott on being named a captain. I noticed the week of the All-Star Game that the league had asked him if he was sure about playing as a captain, and it was clear that they would have preferred a more “A-list” player to be a captain. Ironically, John Scott scored two goals in the Pacific-Central division game.
One thing that did fortunately stay the same was the Skills Competition. I am always amazed at the finesse and speed at which these stars complete the tasks at hand. And this year, 19-year-old rookie Dylan Larkin set the record for fastest lap around the rink at a speed of 13.172 seconds, breaking the 20-year-old previously standing record. It is crazy things like that that continue to draw me, and other viewers, in every year. I hope that the NHL continues to keep the Skills Competition, although I wouldn’t be too mad if they changed some of the events.
At the end of the hype of the weekend, it was the Pacific Division that came out on top of the tournament. In the first game, the Atlantic Division beat the Metropolitan Division 4-3. Scoring happened rather quickly and somewhat often, but not as much as the game that followed. The second game of the day, the Pacific Division against the Central Division, was more reminiscent of the All-Star games of years past. The final score was 9-6, a score that would be unheard of in a regular season game. The Pacific took control of the game in the second period, scoring 6 goals compared to the Central’s 3. In my opinion, the second game was much more exciting than the first, but that’s just me. And the second game was definitely more exciting than the championship game, in which only one goal was scored. With so much excitement surrounding the end of the tournament, it kind of hit a speed bump with the long wait for a goal. The last game seemed more like a normal regular season game, so perhaps the NHL can work on making the games a little more action-packed. The tournament might not have been as exciting as the NHL had hoped, but it was the first time that this structure had been used so it can receive a pass.
Overall, I think All-Star Weekend was a success. The Skills Competition was exciting as always, even though the Western Conference looked very bad in comparison to the Eastern. I did think the 3-on-3 tournament went better than I had previously expected, although it might be more exciting if the NHL let the fans pick the players, not just the captains.