NHL Skills Competition Should Take Inspiration From Survivor

The NHL All-Star weekend stinks, and no one cares to watch it. The skills competition was boring, confusing, and completely meaningless. There are no stakes whatsoever, and you can see the disengagement on the players’ faces. But can it be fixed? During my lifetime, the NHL has failed to even attempt to shake things up. Fortunately, I’m an outside-the-box thinker with big ideas. All we need is some creativity to really give the fans a show.

Here’s what I propose: we bring in Jeff Probst and turn the NHL All-Star game into Survivor. The players will be competing for the grand prize of $1,000,000.

2022 NHL All-Star Game Logo
2022 NHL All-Star Game Logo (Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.Net)

Before I begin describing the weekend’s events, I must emphasize that the element of surprise for both the players and the viewers at home is absolutely crucial so as to not affect the voting strategy. Also, to any league executives reading this, don’t worry; every event will be sponsored.

We’ll start with five tribes:

  1. Atlantic Division
  2. Metropolitan Division
  3. Central Division
  4. Pacific Division
  5. Goaltenders

How to Begin

Players within the same division will compete against each other until there are only four players remaining in each.

Each division will compete in the same five challenges in the same order. The winner of each challenge will receive immunity and therefore be safe at “Tribal Council”, where one player will be voted out. The players will be kept in the dark as to the order of the challenges so as not to impact their voting. All these events will be followed by Tribal Council.

  1. Hardest shot
  2. Accuracy shooting
  3. Fastest skater
  4. Fastest backward skater
  5. Breakaway challenge

Although the remaining players in the goaltender tribe are exempt from competing in the breakaway challenge, they will be participating so the other players have someone to shoot on. At this point, there will be only four goalies remaining.

I need to make this abundantly clear: if you don’t want to watch goalies compete in the hardest shot, accuracy, or speed skating challenges, we are not the same. The resulting quality of entertainment and tremendous betting opportunities would be immeasurable. Once we have narrowed it down to 20 contestants, it’s time to merge into two smaller tribes. How will we do that?

The Draft

Everyone loves a draft. First, the fans at home will vote for two captains. The captains will be responsible for drafting their new tribe. If a captain is voted out, a new one will be voted on by the viewers at home. Isn’t this fun?

20 players – sudden death 3-on-3

The captain will select which goalie is playing. The losing team goes to Tribal Council.

19 players – shootout

The first team to score five goals wins. Captain picks the order.

18 players left – another sudden death 3-on-3

The captain will select which goalie is playing. The losing team goes to Tribal Council.

17 players left – relay race

Do I need to explain a relay race? It is a race between two or more teams of contestants, each contestant being relieved by a teammate after running part of the distance.

16 players left – spelling bee

You won’t change the channel.

15 players left – Family Feud

You love it.

14 players left – keep ups

The tribes take a soccer ball and get five tries each to see who can keep the ball up for the longest amount of time. A player is not allowed to touch the ball more than two times in a row.

The Merge

Now that we have narrowed it down to 13 contestants, we are ready to merge the tribes. Everyone has formed their alliances and we’re having a neat time.

The teams line up for the post-game handshake (Josh Smith/THW)

13 players left – long-distance accuracy shooting

We’ll line the players up on the far goal line and create various targets worth different points. They’ll each get five pucks, and whoever has the most points after their turn wins.

12 players left – goalie race

The remaining 12 players throw on goalie equipment and do five laps. They’re allowed full contact; anything goes except for cheating by skipping laps or the like.

11 players left – Red Bull Crashed Ice

Sponsored by MassMutual, the official insurance of the NHL.

10 players left – fan vote

The fans at home get to vote out whoever they want. Engagement is key. This event is sponsored by Citizen Change. Vote or die.

9 players left – obstacle course

The players each separately race through an obstacle course. Fastest time wins immunity.

8 players left – longest shot

Take the players outside to a parking lot area, and whoever can fire a puck the furthest distance wins immunity. Each player gets 3 tries.

7 players left – H-O-R-S-E

Players take turns doing different trick shots. If someone makes a shot but another player misses, they get a letter toward the word ‘HORSE.’ The last person left standing wins immunity.

6 players left – hockey trivia

Players are asked 30 multiple choice trivia questions, and they interactively answer. The player with the most correct answers wins immunity.

5 players left – musical chairs

I am clearly hurting for ideas at this point.

4 players left – ping pong tournament

I told you I am hurting for ideas.

3 players left – hog

The final three play a game of 1-on-1-on-1. The first player to hit both posts and a crossbar wins.

2 players left – eliminated contestants return to vote for the winner.

WINNER – $1 million dollars.

The Tribe Has Spoken

There you have it folks, the craziest idea I’ve ever had. I am very aware that some of the events wouldn’t fly and there are some obvious kinks to work out, but this idea has good bones. Also, I’m aware I didn’t include any reward challenges, a crowd favorite among Survivor fans, but it goes without saying that the players would be fired up to compete in events for a Rolex or a vacation package, and sponsorships would not be hard to come by. The NHL has so many marketable players and these rock stars need an opportunity to let their personalities shine.

Dany Heatley Atlanta Thrashers
Dany Heatley, Atlanta Thrashers, Oct, 23, 2002 (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Let’s do something that has never been done: make the NHL All-Star weekend watchable.