NHL Changes All-Star Game and Brings Back Excitement

Brandon CroceAnalyst IJanuary 19, 2011

Eric Staal will have the responsibility of drafting his team this year
Eric Staal will have the responsibility of drafting his team this yearBruce Bennett/Getty Images

The NHL may have figured out a way to make an All-Star game interesting again. Over the past few years, leagues have tried to figure out ways to bring back the excitement around their All-Star Games.

The NFL will be moving the Pro Bowl to the week before the Super Bowl this year in hopes to draw more interest instead of years past when it was played after the Super Bowl. The problem with this is any players in the Super Bowl will not be able to compete in the Pro Bowl and they have weakened their player pool for the game.

The NBA thought if they gave the fans the opportunity to pick their All-Stars that it would bring back the buzz for the All-Star game. This is a good idea in theory, but still has its flaws. For example, Yao Ming is the leading vote getter for centers in the Western Conference and he has played in five games this season, scoring a grand total of 51 points.

Major League Baseball has also tried to figure out ways to bring back excitement around their All-Star game. In 2002, they decided to award the winning conference of the All-Star game home field advantage in the World Series. This does add suspense to the game but this also puts a greater importance on what is nothing more than an exhibition game.

The National Hockey League has faced an uphill climb ever since losing a whole season during the lockout, but has worked hard to bring back excitement and fans. They have done a great job of listening to fans and adding innovative aspects to their product, like the Winter Classic. They have been willing to change rules and the style of hockey that is played and it has been for the better.

Now, the NHL has announced for the All-Star game this year teams will put together in a pick-up game type style draft. Yesterday, Nicklas Lidstrom and Eric Staal were voted as captains by the other All-Stars for their respective teams and they will have the responsibility of putting together their teams.

It is no longer Western vs. Eastern but rather Team Lidstrom vs. Team Staal. If this is done correctly, it could generate a lot of buzz and excitement for this year’s game.

This is a great idea in theory but execution will be key for the NHL to make this successful. The promotion and media exposure of the draft, which will be held the Friday before the All-Star game, is imperative to its success.

There are a number of storylines that can be talked about leading up to this game. Will Eric Staal pick his brother Marc Staal? With the Sedin brothers end up on different teams? What teammates will end up playing against each other? Will Ovechkin or Crosby be the No. 1 overall pick? These are all topics that should be discussed and marketed leading up to the draft.

I believe the NHL may have figured out a way to bring back excitement over an All-Star game in deciding to do something as simple as have the players pick their teams. They didn’t have to move when the game was played or add stipulations like the winner gets home field advantage for a championship.

It is great to see the NHL have the willingness to continue to assess their product and change it if necessary. That is the reason the NHL will continue to grow and will be successful in the years to come.