NHL All-Star Game Changes Not Enough: What the Fans Really Want To See

Jon Neely@@iamjonneelyAnalyst INovember 10, 2010

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 30: Brooks Orpik #44 of the Pittsburgh Penguins propels Sean Avery #16 of the New York Rangers over goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury #29 at Madison Square Garden on November 30, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The NHL's Annual GM meetings have been happening all this week, with each team's GM present as they discuss the current state of the game, and additions or rule changes that need to take place. It's a clash of some of the smartest minds in hockey, which makes it interesting why the combination of the game's brightest could only come up with this latest change to the All-Star Game.

You know, the one game every season you don't watch?

Actually, they didn't even change anything about the actual game, it will still be the same players, lolly-gagging around with the same I-don't-care-about-this-game attitude. It's good to know the GM's have the fan's best interest in all this.

So now, instead of the fans picking the starting lineups, oh wait, nope, that's still the same. Okay, so the only real change is that after the all-star players are picked by the league (and starters by the fans), and then two captains are nominated and they pick their teams out of the pre-picked players.

Give me a break. Even the Chilean miners know that there's not a single star player who will give anywhere near 100% in this game, either by personal choice or because of direct orders from their coach/entire city.

I guarantee you the morning skate before the game is more exciting than the actual game. Where do I get tickets for that?

So how does this change the game one bit? Now, instead of the East-West format, where the first lines would look something like Henrik Sedin, Henrik Zetterberg, and Ryan Getzlaf facing off against Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and Steven Stamkos (forget their positions, for a moment) it might be Crosby, Getzlaf, and Zetterberg across from Stamkos, Ovechkin, and Sedin.


Assuming Crosby and Ovechkin get picked as captains, because anyone would bet their favourite child on that happening, it will just be those two picking the same players that always get into the game, just mixing up those from the East and West.

So what the GM's have come up with, is a pre-game draft that will get some attention, before they play the exact same game that will still get no attention.

Brilliance personified. I hope women's soccer is on that day.

Oh, it's in Carolina? Probably won't be on TV then.

What they need to do, instead of sending in the suit's to a big room, where they can count their money (well, not all of them) and come up with stupid ideas like this, is have 30 fan-representatives from each team gather together, and make this all-star game something worth watching.

Simple rules for the fans participating; they can't be die-hard fans (because we want to keep it simple, stupid), and they must be under the age of 25. Sorry, did I say 25? I meant 15.

Here's what I'd bet on coming out of that meeting.


Forget Crosby vs. Ovechkin

The NHL's two darlings have their day to faceoff on Jan. 1, 2011 when they star in the outdoor game and probably in the playoffs (we hope). It's time to give someone else the spotlight for 34 seconds and name two other players as the captains of each team. And by different, I mean really different.

Let's set this weekend on fire, and name Sean Avery and Steve Ott as captains.

Don't try and hide that smile. You'd love this. I'd love this. They'd love this.

Have the league's best two pests duke it off in a UFC press conference style draft. Put them face-to-face, let the hate run wild, and watch the ratings fly off the radar as fans around the world tune in to watch Avery comment on Ott's grandmother before witnessing Gary Bettman try and breakup a fight between the two.

I just got goosebumps.

And it's not like either player would care about not choosing someone they're supposed to, and having hate reign down on them. Everyone hates them both already.


Forget the All-Stars

I know, I know, it's called the All-Star game, so we can't completely forget all about the best that this game has to offer, but that's not what I mean. All I'm saying is don't pre-select the players available in the draft. Go straight NHL 11 and let the two have a real fantasy draft.

No limits.

A first line of Avery, Colton Orr, and Derek Boogaard? By all means. Put them up against Ott, Daniel Carcillo, and Chris Neil and I'm cancelling my own wedding to watch that game.

We'd have a line brawl, with players on the same team fighting. Excuse me while I remember that for the rest of my life.


Fans choose the jerseys

No more East vs. West, means no more cheesy conference jerseys. It's time to get real with the outfits, and allow fans to choose and create each team's attire.

We could stamp on an image of the captain's face to each jersey. Maybe go the tie-dye route. Or even kick it back to the days of true outdoor shinny, where each player wears they favourite retro jersey, as long as one side is dark and the other light.

Won't change much about the game, but how cool would it be to see Crosby speeding (well, half-speeding) down the middle of the ice with a 1986 Edmonton Oilers Gretzky jersey blowing behind him.

And by Crosby, I of course mean Carcillo.


Goalie no-go zone, has got to go

Let the goalie roam free, skate anywhere they want, give away the puck from anywhere on the ice. Lose the trapezoid behind the net.

Oh, did I put this in the All-Star Game suggestions?

Sorry, I meant in real games.


Goal celebrations mandatory

It's sad, really, how celebrating a goal (or touchdown) is frowned upon these days in professional sports. It's seen as disrespecting the other team-after you score on them, which isn't exactly respectful to start with-and thus the league doesn't like it. Heck, it's seen as more disrespectful than fighting or face-washing.

Which usually means; "I'm currently disrespecting your face."

Ovechkin was almost kicked out of the NHL after pretending his stick was on fire during his 50th goal celebration two years ago.

A guy trying to bring some more excitement to the game. Imagine that.

In the All-Star game, it would be better to see thought-out, over-the-top celebrations after every goal. And they have to include more than one player.

So have the scorer throw the puck in the air, as if it's a grenade, then have every other player on the ice fall over when it hits the ice. Maybe sit down in a line, and pretend to speed down a bobsled track, bobbing and weaving their heads at each turn.

Heck, call in Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco to celebrate at center ice after every goal.

Just do it, show some creativity.

It's not disrespectful, it's as fan-friendly as it gets. And last time I checked, the fans are the ones this game is for, right, NHL?


Other ideas could include each team must choose one goalie, to play forward. Use a tennis ball instead of a puck for the third period. Or a cardboard cutout of Bettman is the goalie in each net.

Or suit up Gretzky and Messier on one side against Lemieux and Jagr on the other. They may be old, but give the kids a small taste of what the G.O.A.T.'s used to do.

Just do something.

Hockey is the coolest, fastest, most exciting game on earth, and the All-Star Game is supposed to showcase the best of what the game has to offer. Yet, it doesn't come close.

Never has. So it's time to let the fans have their say.

Because clearly at the meetings this week,  when the GM's came up with this great idea to change the NHL All-Star Game, they forgot one little thing.

To actually change the game.


Twitter, do it. @therealjonneely


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