With the NHL All-Star Game (and other professional all-star games, for that matter) starting to get slightly boring due to the fact that the players do not try that hard, it is time to get more creative. The Fantasy Draft idea was a step in the right direction in 2011 and I also like the idea of having the All-Star Game in Columbus next year because it will help bring revenue and exposure to a small market team. However, there are still many ways to go to bring the all-star game back to the level it used to be.
A good way to spice things up is to have the game outdoors. The 2009 Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) All-Star Game was outdoors, and it gained a lot of attention. It was played in the Red Square in Moscow, which is a city square. Playing in an unconventional site like a city square would be very cool if the NHL could pull it off. Playing in an actual stadium would be great, but why not be innovative for a game like this. They can create a makeshift arena on the National Mall in Washington, hold it at a NASCAR racetrack, Yellowstone Park, or even on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa. Of course these sites sound outrageous, but now that they can make ice using cold concrete and cold glycol, they may be able to pull it off. Even the KHL might play a game in a Roman ampitheatre next year!
Other Ideas to Make the All-Star Weekend Better
I presented the idea of having it outdoors, but here are some other ways to make it more entertaining
1. Include a Celebrity Game
There was a celebrity all-star game in Los Angeles in 2002, but there hasn’t been one since. It included the likes of Kiefer Sutherland, Alex Trebek, and Alan Thicke, three household names. The MLB and NBA have celebrity games at their all-star events, so why not the NHL? The can even have a ball hockey or broomball game if some celebrities can’t skate.
2. Have the last Stanley Cup Winner Play an NHL All-Star Team
Instead of watering down the best players into two teams, they could have the recent Stanley Cup winner play one NHL All-Star Team, which is how the All-Star Game started out.
3. Split up sticks at center ice instead of a Fantasy Draft
Instead of awkwardly picking players, do it the old fashioned way and throw everyone’s sticks in the middle of the ice and split the teams up. The only problem is that one team might be loaded.
4. Have a 3-on-3 Tournament
Either replace the actual All-Star Game or Skills Competition with a 3-on-3 tournament of eight teams.
5. AHL Calder Cup Winner or AHL All-Star Team vs. NHL Lottery Pick Winner
That would be cool, but the AHL wants to get revenue from its own All-Star Game instead of having to share it with the NHL.