Bryan Altman, CBS Local Sports
Sure, the NHL’s new All-Star game format is a joke and it’s not really even hockey, but every format that’s preceded this year’s iteration has been as well. So instead of embarking on a long-winded rant about how the NHL All-Star game – and all All-Star games for that matter – are sideshows that no player or coach wants to be a part of and they should all go the way of the dinosaurs, I’m going to take a different approach. Let’s celebrate the new format and talk about how awesome it’s going to be.
But first, let’s go through some of the basic rules for this new format.
Here’s the scoop from TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
“There will be four teams of nine skaters and two goalies, one team for each of the four divisions (Atlantic and Metropolitan in the East; Central and Pacific in the West). There will be a 20-minute mini-game – likely two 10-minute halves – featuring one division versus another in 3-on-3 action followed by another 20-minute game with the other two divisions playing each other.
The two winning teams would then meet in a third 20-minute session for the so-called “championship” game. The all-star Fantasy Draft, a show the players didn’t particularly like but was needed and, at times, was an entertaining way to choose up sides, is no longer required with the players playing for their divisional teams.”
One other important detail to add: the winning team of 11 will apparently split a one million dollar prize. Not a bad haul and it might get some guys putting a little extra ‘umph’ into the game.
Now that that’s settled, let’s discuss why this new version of the All-Star game is going to be fantastic!
Side note: RIP All-Star game fantasy draft, you were thoroughly enjoyed while you lasted. Look at the photo below. If you look really closely you can see Phil Kessel smiling. That is how powerful the fantasy draft format was.
Anyway, back to discussing the awesomeness of the 3-on-3 overtime format.
1. 3-on-3 Overtime Is Awesome
It’s exhausting, it’s exhilarating, it’s not hockey, it’s not fair, but make no mistake about it, it is awesome. And don’t get me wrong, I feel for the players because just watching 3-on-3 overtime is tiring and I can’t imagine having to skate 200 feet back and forth, but it’s highly entertaining stuff. And that’s just your good old fashion regular season 3-on-3 OT.
While each team does a good enough job finding their top 3-on-3 lineup to start off the overtime frame, 3-on-3 with the NHL’s all stars is going to be regular overtime on steroids. It’s going to play out like a street hockey game on ice with Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares and Evgeni Malkin all on one team. Get excited.
2. None Of The Players Are Going To Care Much
This might sound like a bad thing, but it’s really a good thing, I think. Sure, the million dollar prize helps matters, but you really think Alex Ovechkin is going to hustle back 200 feet on defense for an extra $100,000 in a game that means nothing? I don’t think so. Some guys might for sure since that’s still a lot of cash, but I’d say it won’t change the game much, if at all.
The reason this doesn’t suck is because opportunities will be rife for the best players in the world to work some magic. Plus, none of the players will complain about being tired and goalies won’t care about being hung out to dry because it’ll be an emotion-free game where the best players in the world’s skill is on display.
3. Change Is Good, Especially In All-Star Games
All-Star games simply don’t have the shelf lives of the sports that they’re predicated on. Hockey itself doesn’t get old, but the All-Star game does, and always will. And there’s no cure for it, which is only ok because deep down we all know this. That’s why this change is a good thing. It’ll not only provide a new and exciting format for this year, but within two to three years time when we get tired of this format we can once again change it up and get reinvigorated for the NHL All-Star game.
So if you’re scrolling through the interwebs and see an article lambasting All-Star games of all sorts, skip it. Indulge in the madness that will be 3-on-3 OT, because much like every cellphone you’ve ever owned, this version will be replaced by what’s promised to be a new and improved version before you know it.
Bryan Altman is, for some reason, an unabashed fan of the Rangers, Jets and Mets. If he absolutely had to pick a basketball team it would be the Knicks, but he’d gladly trade them for just one championship for either of his other three teams.