Toronto hosts the All Star Game this year. In the past, the league has chosen the majority of the lineups in a divisional arrangement, with a fan vote to cover the rest. The format is 3v3, tournament style with a division winner at the end.
This year, to the NHL's credit, they've gone back to a successful idea of four team captains and a Draft on Thursday night ahead of the Skills Competition and Game. Word is Auston Matthews is one of the captains.
The All Star Game itself is still a 3v3 tournament format with a winning team in the end. 3v3 was exciting when it started and has had its moments, but personally, I've found it to be closer to shinny after about 5 minutes.
Despite the improvements, the game is still missing something: competition. We all know the players aren't interested enough to put in a real effort because why would they? The league isn't offering them anything they would want.
My proposal is an oldie, but a goodie.
Play a full 60 minute game with overtime and shootout if necessary between two teams. The NHL Eastern Conference vs the NHL Western Conference.
Home ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Finals for the team in the winning Conference.
If a player isn't willing to compete for that, then they have no business being at the All-Star Game.
This prize isn't new by any means. The MLB determined home field in the World Series based on the AL vs NL All-Star Game until 2017, and I've seen plenty of folks pushing to bring it back.
A peak at the rosters
The NHL has released the initial rosters doing what they normally do, which is guarantee participation for one player from each team. Congrats Nick Suzuki on becoming a three-time All Star. And welcome to the illustrious club, Boone Jenner and Tom Wilson. Call me a boomer but earning a trip to the All Star Game used to mean something.
The current system is flat, and designed more for social media engagement. I know you can't wait for the Habs social media accounts to post runway shots of Suzuki in a maroon suit. The current system's rules also mean the home team, Toronto, is only going to get two players (longshot three?) at the game.
A key pillar of sport is competition. People are fans of sports because it's a sport. How difficult is it to get the best players together, give them a reason to care, and watch magic happen.
Here's just a taste of what this year's rosters could look like.
Nikita Kucherov - Auston Matthews - Artemi Panarin
William Nylander - Jack Hughes - David Pastrnak
Sebastian Aho - Sidney Crosby - Mitch Marner
Jake Guentzel - Sam Reinhart - Alex Debrincat
Rasmus Dahlin - Morgan Rielly
Victor Hedman - Noah Dobson
Travis Sanheim - Erik Karlsson
Elias Pettersson - Connor McDavid - Brock Boeser
Leon Draisaitl - Nathan MacKinnon - Kirill Kaprizov
Jason Robertson - Jack Eichel - Robert Thomas
JT Miller - Anze Kopitar - Filip Forsberg
Quinn Hughes - Cale Makar
Roman Josi - Evan Bouchard
Jonas Brodin - Drew Doughty
COME ON! Who doesn't want this?! East's Offense vs West's Defense. Matthews and Hughes vs McDavid and MacKinnon! Hughes and Makar on the same pair! Demko vs Shesterkin! There would be so many layers to this game I'm upset we're robbed of it.
I don't even care if it's an All-Star game or not. Make it an in-season rivalry series like the old Canada Cup if you have to. Actually, that's an amazing idea, no one steal it.
Who do you think would win the NHL East vs NHL West derby?