The NHL All Star game may be an irrelevant showcase of non-contact hockey, but the new format selected by the league this year has at least added a more original element to the event. At the start of the All Star weekend on January 28, two captains will pick their teammates from a pool of players either voted in by fans or chosen by the league.
Think after school get-togethers with your friends at the park, but with professional athletes (and me sitting and watching everything from the sidelines, just like old times).
The format adds incentive for players to buy into the game from a more personal level than an “East vs. West” or “Canada vs. the World” style. I just hope that those players selected can stand behind their captain and whisper who they want him to pick next.
While Pittsburgh dominated the fan-voted selections, at least one player is chosen from each team to the collective talent pool. Of this group, Claude Giroux was selected from the Philadelphia Flyers. You could make the argument that more Flyers are deserving of the “honor” to be selected, but the less players chosen, the less chances there are of losing one of them to injury.
The coaches selected for the All Star game are the coach of the Stanley Cup winning team from the previous season and the coach of the team with the highest amount of points at the end of voting, which just happened to be Peter Laviolette. Laviolette clinched on Saturday with the win against the New Jersey Devils. It has to be intriguing to be able to coach players who would otherwise be locked into long-term contracts with their respective teams, but I wonder how much he cares considering he had to cancel a vacation with his family to make the event.
Sergei Bobrovsky, who was second in fan voting for a period for the goaltender position, was not selected for the rookie game. As a player who is still finding his way back into the current line-up, his absence isn’t a surprise.