Rocket's Red Glare: Dissecting the new NHL All-Star Game format
- Blog Post by: Michael Rand
- January 27, 2011 - 3:51 PM
Welcome to the latest installment of Rocket's Red Glare, where Commenter Rocket attempts (and sometimes succeeds) to talk about an NHL topic in fewer than 2,000 words. Rocket?
*Hocku of the Week*
Even without Sid the Kid
I remain intrigued
By NHL pond hockey
*Throw your sticks in a pile at center ice*
Like most North American sports fans, I have grown increasingly indifferent to the various all-star games of the various major sports.
Whereas all-star games once seemed like appointment television I now generally miss, and sometimes actively avoid them. I suspect that the proliferation of sports on television and elsewhere has dulled the unique shine of these events and revealed them for the glorified exhibition games that they are. In response, the various leagues have gotten gimmicky. While the worst offense still belongs to baseball (an exhibition game SHOULD NOT determine home field advantage for the World Series!), but the NHL has had its share of silly stuff, which, by the way, won’t seem to
Nonetheless, I find myself actually quite intrigued for this weekend’s NHL All-Star Game for two reasons. First, this year’s game is in Raleigh, N.C. The fates have determined that, for the present, I will be spending some time in this part of the world, so I have what I must assume will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to attend the Skills Competition and the All-Star Game.
Second, the NHL’s newest gimmick for the All-Star Game promises to be a spectacle worth paying attention to at least once. This year’s game replaced the East v. West format with something you are more likely to see at the neighborhood rink. Frankly, I’m not sure I completely understand the new format, and I’m not the only one. What I do know is this: A bunch of players were selected to the game in some sort of mysterious process. Players from this group selected two captains, Eric Stall and Nicklas Lidstrom. These two captains, and their alternates, will then choose the rest of their respective teams from the remaining 18 forwards 10 defensemen and six goalies in a draft on this Friday. In addition, to make sure that the final picks are not simply to satisfy the necessary roster spots, each team must have picked its three goalies by round 10 and its five defensemen by round 15.
While I was originally confused and off-put by this new arrangement, I have greatly warmed to the idea over the last few weeks. The possibilities for goofiness are endless. Unfortunately, Stall and Lidstrom are class acts who will most likely seek to be diplomatic in their picks, but that doesn’t necessarily lessen the intrigue. Let’s consider just a few of the possibilities.
*If anyone other than Alex Ovechkin is the first pick then you will know right away that Stall and/or Lidstrom are more concerned with not hurting feelings then they are with putting together the most talented team. Yet, these are still competitive guys who will want to win. How will the captains strike that balance? At what point do you stop taking your friends and start putting the best team together?
*Once again we’re almost assuredly going to have teammates in opposite camps for the All-Star Game. What do you do there? Just how aggressively would Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews fight Patrick Sharp in the corner for the puck? Sure, it’s awkward for the players, but eventually their competitive nature is going to kick in. I don’t see anyone blasting a teammate into the plexiglass, but bragging rights in the locker room have to mean something.
*Speaking of awkward, for Pete’s sake, can we please make sure that the Sedin twins are on different teams? I’m not sure they’ve ever been on different teams, let alone on opposing teams. This needs to happen. And if that happens then this needs to happen.
*The NHL kind of screwed up by picking Stall and Lidstrom to lead the squads, even though both are good guys who are deserving. Yet, if this format persists, what will happen in future years when you have actual rivals as captains? How great, and actually competitive, will the game be next year when Sid the Kid and Ovie are inevitably captains? Might there actually be a fight?
The draft is this Friday at 7, the Skills Competition is at 6 on Saturday, and the All-Star Game is at 3 on Sunday, all of which can be seen on Versus. Make sure to check it out, if for no other reason to witness the car-wreck-on-the-side-of-the-road factor. And don’t start with those lame excuses about not being able to find Versus on the TV. Are you serious? You can’t find a television station? Are the batteries in your remote control dead? Are your thumbs broken? Just how fat, lazy, and American are you that you can’t find a [redacted] TV channel? You see, this is why the rest of the world hates us.
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