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Time for the much anticipated, highly overrated and non-violent hockey game known as the All-Star Game. Stars from all around the league convene in one location to daintily bump, effortlessly save and casually score amidst a sea of pseudo-fans. This year, the locale of choice: Atlanta, Georgia.
Nice move by the NHL to attract fans to one of the league's smallest markets for hockey. In the autobiography titled "The Kid" (about Crosby), Sid mentions how playing in Atlanta compared to Montreal/Toronto was always a pleasant break. In Montreal he'd get mobbed from the second he stepped out the side door to head off to the bus. In Atlanta, he could eat at a street-side restaurant and not be noticed by a single person.
Too bad he won't be on camera tomorrow. Looks like Atlanta still needs a lesson in a robust game of "Who is Sidney Crosby?"
Now I've mentioned before that I've never been one to really care much about the All-Star Game. And in fact, this post so far has taken a very biased approach to the game and so I'll apologize now for doing so. Feel free to ostracize me in the comments section.
However, it does seem like a league-wide, seemingly acceptable thought to accept the All-Star Game as a lost cause. Which is why I was so interested in THN's (The Hockey News) article in their January 22 issue titled "56 Ways to Save The All-Star Game." 56 reasons, of course, because this is the 56th All-Star Game.
It's more or less a tongue in cheek list, but some of the ideas aren't too far fetched.
Here are a few from the list. Each is quoted directly from the THN issue.
01 Change the format. How about introducing Age Rage, with the enthusiastic under-30 guys going up against the crotchety over-30 crowd.
03 Or left-handed shot all-stars versus right-handed shot all-stars
07 Mic up every player and broadcast the best clips during breaks in the action. To take it a step further, have stretches while the game is being played - where the only audio is on-ice chatter.
08 Have all the players stay in the same hotel. On the same floor. With a 24-hour reality TV crew on hand.
12 Invite top junior and college players to the skills competition (John Tavares vs. Marty Turco in a shootout drill, followed by Alex Ovechkin vs Simeon Varlamov).
13 New skills competition: Bodychecking. Imaging Dion Phaneuf vs Shane Weber in the final, skating full force into a tackling dummy - whoever makes it fly the furthest, win. Seriously...fans would go nuts.
22 Assign each period a point value. For example, winning the first period is worth one point, the second two points and the third three points. That keeps the game interesting should the score be lopsided entering the third.
25 Have a celebrity of hockey legend do the PA announcing on goal calls.
28 Play the game on international ice. Give those all-stars room to move.
29 The winning conference gets home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup final.
34 Every penalty, anywhere on the ice, results in a penalty shot.
39 No icing the puck on penalty kills.
41 Play the game in Europe or a non-NHL North American city.
47 Play it outdoors
48 Play it after the season's over
49 Play it in the pre-season. Fans are hungry for hockey after three long summer months...and anything that spices up the exhibition schedule is welcome.
51 Bring back the goalie helmet cam.56 Ah, what the heck, let's see what happens if they throw two pucks on the ice instead of the usual boring, old one. Or, maybe one puck in the first, two in the seconds and three in the third. Could make for some cool hat tricks.
THN - January 22, 2008 Issue
I skipped over certain numbers only because certain ones were NUMBER - Bigger nets. NUMBER - Smaller nets. You get the point...
On a personal note, I agree with 22 (point values for periods), 29 (winning conference gets home ice in finals), 49 (play it during pre-season) and 51 (goalie cams).
What say you?
PS - I just pray I don't read that Malkin and Gonchar collided and will both be out 4-6 weeks with high-ankle sprains, concussions and broken fibulas.