The All New NHL All-Star Game

It seemed that every NHL fan, even those that constantly complain that the All-Star Game is stupid but still debate player selections and watch all the events, was at the very least curious about how player draft was going to happen and be received by the players.  The NHL Network decided to take a break from running re-runs of last Summer's On The Fly in order to run a two hour pre-draft show featuring the awesome Kevin Weekes and awesomely silly Jeremy Roenick.  If you didn't or couldn't catch the pre-draft, what a shame.  The boys on the NHL Network worked to set up the overall tone that would carry over to Versus and be present through the entire draft.  The fun factor and the silliness of the whole thing was put up front and embraced by the entire crew.  There was plenty of joking and ribbing while selection orders were argued, the segment where Roenick tried to hunt down a Kevin Weekes hockey card had me laughing, and they did a good job conveying that the players in the draft were all getting a little antsy.

The event itself just carried on with what the pre-draft show started.  It seemed that no one minded that the whole thing was flat out cheesy, and everyone embraced it.  If the players and crew had tried to fight the cheesiness, then the whole event would have devolved into an arduous ordeal of pseudo-commentary and truly awkward, awkwardness.  Flipping the puck, having draft analysis from a panel, and the player interviews all just added to the fun of the draft.  With the atmosphere that was set, not even Pierre McGuire could say anything that would've detracted from event.  Even better, while it seemed that every commentator from NBC, Versus, and the NHL Network was going to make an appearance, Mike Milbury was absent and therefore unable to be a complete stick-in-the-mud.  From a fan stand point, I believe this event was highly successful.  It added layers of player involvement and fun that really had been absent outside of the Breakaway Challenge and Elimination Shootout (both events added in 2008).

I'm sure that a few changes could help to elevate the event to a higher level, and I think a lot of the fun could come from the selection of captains and assistant captains. Professional pugilist and agitators are key parts of the game, but these players are not traditional all-stars nor are they players who will get recognized with any type of award. So, why not have a Team Bissonnette vs Team Avery draft. Their drafting strategy would probably be world's away from elite players like Eric Staal and Lidstrom, and the two would add more of what I felt the player draft was missing, player personality. The guys sitting in the chairs were showing more personality that any of the drafters behind the podiums. Staal showed glimmers of it when he paused between announcing the New York Rangers and pausing to make his younger brother squirm before calling out Henrik Lundqvist. It was also fun to watch Toews shoot daggers at Kane. We watched 24/7 and saw that a lot of these guys have great personalities, it would be nice to draw them out. Anyways, anther captain structure could have a pair of rookies in charge of drafting. That would truly make it a fantasy draft, having a couple of teenagers just immersing themselves in the NHL up on stage drafting some of the players that they looked up to and admired while growing up and playing junior hockey.

A final word: I've never understood why you'd give out a car, maybe someone could explain it to me.  But it was nice that the last picked Phil Kessel got to pick a charity to receive $20,000.  Giving back to the community has been and should always be an important part of the NHL's identity, and I felt that the donation money was a great note to cap the end of the draft.

1 comment:

willn's said...

"I've never understood why you'd give out a car, maybe someone could explain it to me. I don't know either .....perharps the same reasons one would be offered a lift in walmart after buyingg just bread and milk from a privilaged pal in a classic car only to realise that the one they are offering a lift is indeed a full time driver and has a toyota truck waiting?. lofl.