The four-day festivities surrounding the 2012 NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa confirmed that the league has the right idea with its current fantasy format.
The sport is sold effectively by underscoring two marquee individual names, including one from the hosting franchise. A precedent may have been set this season for a dose of national pride reminiscent of the defunct North America-World matchup.
And on top of the loose, pond-hockey type fun that goes with the team selection process, some harmless competitive spirit was injected when opposing captains Daniel Alfredsson and Zdeno Chara put each Senator and Maple Leaf on their respective sides.
With all due respect to Columbus, next year’s All-Star contest will likely have a futile time following up on this season’s.
A Blue Jacket is bound to be the home captain, which will automatically aid in drawing local interest. But with the possible exception of a Detroit Red Wing, it will be tough to find a counterpart to exploit a rivalry with Columbus, a team established in the year 2000 and yet to win a playoff game.
Granted, the 2013 All-Star Weekend should bear all of the same general elements of enjoyment and might even bolster the growth of the Columbus fan base. But afterwards, if it is to continue with its unique format, the NHL should put a more deliberate focus on individual, franchise and/or international feuds as an All-Star storyline.
As the landscape appears now, the five most promising pairs of contesting captains for any All-Star game after 2013 are as follows.