The NHL All-Star game has been through many degrees of change over the years to better cater to the league, players and the fans. The goal is to make it entertaining, fun to watch and even more so, fun to play for the All-Stars selected to play. The All-Star game is a display of the best the league has to offer. The most talented goal scorers against the best defenders. The most exceptional goaltenders guard the net as all this unravels in front of them.
This year, with the addition to the regular seasons overtime, the All-Star game, hosted by the Nashville Predators, will be a three-on-three style tournament. With each division battling inside their conferences looking for the ticket to the championship game against their outer conference counterpart. With the success the three-on-three overtime has had this season in the NHL's regular season, it seems like a natural progression for the players and the sport. It provides a stage for talent to blossom and defense to take a back seat. It should provide a more thrilling score-a-thon than last years lackluster snooze fest.
For the last couple years there were two captains chosen out of all the players selected to participate. The two captains would then make picks in a draft format eventually sitting with their final roster, and the last player chosen won a car supplied by the events sponsor. The teams would then break into individuals for the skills competition and then gather back into their teams for the five-on-five game. Defense would be almost non-existent and the offense would take over. In last years event, team Toews, lead by captain Jonathan Toews, scored a record setting 17 goals. The most ever scored by a single team since the event started. The final ended up 17-12 with team Foligno, captained by Nick Foligno, taking the loss.
This year is a little different. Each team will be comprised of 11 players: six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies. The teams are selected by division. The 2016 NHL All-Star Fan Vote will decide who is selected from each division to be the captain of each team, while the rest of the 40 players will be decided by the NHL Hockey Operations Department. There will be at least one representative from each of the 30 NHL teams. The four division leading coaches at the time (Jan. 9th) will be chosen to coach their respective teams.
The first two 20 minute games will be the semifinals with the two winners facing off in the finals for the $1 million dollar prize. The semifinals will consist of the Pacific division facing off with the Central division, with the Metropolitan division against the Atlantic division. The schedule will be decided by the 2016 NHL All-Star Skill Competition, the winner will select when their team plays, first or second.
The teams will switch ends after the 10 minute mark and the winner will be decided in a shootout if the teams are tied after 20 minutes. The revamped format should inject a thrilling, refreshed feel to the All-Star game and bring a better all around experience for the fans and players. It should, barring injury, bring Sidney Crosby out after years of absence. Also, there should be a heavy dose of players from the Dallas Stars, Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers due to the stellar seasons by each team.