The other day I was listening to some sports commentators discuss the All-Star Game format. As everyone knows, the format is three 20-minute rounds of 3-on-3 in a strange division elimination series, ending with a mini "cup final" of the best division in the East vs. the best division in the West.
Jeff Marek's interesting take-away was this: he'd heard a story that back in the day, the New York Islanders used to use the 3-on-3 format as a form of punishment, a lengthy bag-skate type scrimmage in practice if they did poorly the game before. "Everybody's legs hurt by the end of it," Marek said. Then he pointed to Erik Karlsson's disapproval of the format, saying, "Karlsson skates a million minutes a night anyway," and 3-on-3 was simply a thing that would make him even more exhausted.
Put into this sort of perspective, five minutes seems like a lot. Twenty minutes seems like even more -- and with a format that has only six forwards, how do you possibly rotate the bench enough for adequate rest between shifts? It means each forward plays about ten minutes a night. If an average shift length is 45 seconds, then ... yeah, this sounds exhausting.
Anyway, I've buried the lead because it's an interesting discussion, but my point is this: the NHL's format was announced a few days ago, and the AHL's All-Star Game format has just been announced. It doesn't quite match the NHL's format -- the teams will have a round-robin tournament of six games of nine minutes each, better explained in the included infographic. From the press release:
Instead of a traditional 60-minute game, the league’s all-stars will be divided into four teams, one representing each of the league’s divisions (Atlantic, North, Central, Pacific). The teams will then play a round-robin tournament featuring six games of nine minutes each; the first half of each game will be played at 4-on-4, and the second half at 3-on-3. The two teams with the best records at the end of the round-robin tournament will face off for the championship, a six-minute game played at 3-on-3.
I conclude that nine minute rounds sound much more reasonably than the NHL's 20. Hey NHL, change your format again.
Also, instead of only having six forwards, three defensemen, and two goaltenders like the NHL, the AHL will have "11 players and two goaltenders." That'll make for a little less exhaustion!
This year the AHL's All-Star Game is scheduled for January 31-February 1 in Syracuse, NY. Ticket information is here:
Ticket prices range from $40-60 and can be purchased either in person at the Syracuse Crunch office located in the War Memorial Arena at 800 South State Street in Syracuse, by calling (315) 473-4444 or through all Ticketmaster outlets.