As many of you are already aware of, the NHL announced this past Wednesday that the format of the 2016 NHL All-Star game has been transformed into a 3-on-3 All-Star Tournament.
The format of the NHL All-Star game has now changed a grand total of eleven times since it was first created in 1934. This new 3-on-3 tournament will take the place of the Player Fantasy Draft format which has been used since 2011. Personally, my intrigue towards the draft style all-star game was extremely short-lived and I am happy to see it go.
The new 3-on-3 All-Star Tournament will include one team for each division in the league. I am no mathematician but that brings the team total to four. Both Western Conference teams and both Eastern Conference teams will square of in 20-minute long semi-final games. The winner of those two contests will then go on to play each other for a $1 million prize.
Each team in the tournament will consist of eleven players. Of those eleven players, six will be forwards, three will be defensemen, and two will be goaltenders. Fans will be allowed to vote for one player for each division. The remaining 40 All-Stars will be selected by the NHL Hockey Operations Department. The men voted into the game will be crowned the captain of their respective teams.
This news is now a few days old and the opinions on whether changing the format to 3-on-3 are all over the map. It took me a little bit to figure out how I truly felt on the matter but I have come to a decision. Of course all of you fine people have been dying to find out my stand on it all so I knew I had to share my opinion.
So without further ado, my take on the new 3-on-3 NHL All-Star Tournament…
Transforming From Meaningless to Entertaining
Unlike other all-star games in professional sports, the only purpose the NHL’s serves is entertainment. The team crowned victorious walks away with no meaningful reward (in regards to the sport itself) which affects the level of play on the ice. Goaltending and hitting are nonexistent, and the goal count reaches somewhere in the double-digits. Personally I completely understand why a player would not want to give it their all during an all-star game. Why would a player risk injury in a game that will do nothing to better his chances at becoming a Stanley Cup champion at the end of the season? The all-star game itself has no energy whatsoever and becomes very dull quick. Most people who tune into NHL All-Star Weekend, including myself, really only enjoy the skills competition anyway.
As I mentioned before, the NHL All-Star game is strictly about entertainment. As people have witnessed already, 3-on-3 hockey is both extremely entertaining and exciting. People sit at the edge of their seat as they witness break-out after break-out occur until the puck eventually winds up in the net. Now the all-star game will never evoke the same amount of passion from fans as an actually meaningful game, but the 3-on-3 format will sure make the product much more entertaining.
If goals is what you want to see, the 3-on-3 tournament will most certainly deliver. We are talking about the most talented hockey players in the world partaking in countless odd-man rushes! There is a chance that 25-plus goals are tallied in each 20-minute contest. If you are all about watching strong goaltending, the all-star most likely never appealed to you in the first place so you will not be affected in any way. The tournament style also provides fans with a new experience that should increase the competitiveness in the players slightly. Even though each game is essentially pointless, we are talking about professional athletes with an incredible amount of pride. It is hard to imagine any of them being content with being eliminated by another division.
When it comes to all-star games in general, I am not a huge fan to begin with. Most of the time they are nothing more than a safety hazard for the best players in the league. However, I cannot help but be intrigued by the new format the NHL has decided to use this year. It gives everybody the chance to sit back, relax, and watch their favorite or least favorite players have a little fun. This will be important right before most teams make their push for the postseason and nerves are at maximum levels.
John Gove is an elementary school educator who writes about hockey in his spare team. Over the past five years, John has covered the game at various levels. Now, he exclusively focuses his coverage on prospects and the developmental leagues.