(Souce: Jim Courteau)

Why The NHL All Star Game Should Continue

Player Introductions at the 2011 NHL ASG (Source: Jim Courteau)

Over the last few years there has been a few grumblings here and there amongst writers and talk-show hosts that there is no longer a need for an All Star Game, in any league.  Hockey’s All Star Game is brought up more and more as the best example why, as the type of game played is not quite the same as the game we all know and love.  How so?  There is no hitting or hard checking, which is completely understandable as this is supposed to be a fun game and exhibition of the skills of the best skaters and net-minders.  It is also pointed out that with today’s technology (cable TV, satellite TV, and internet) more and more fans are able to watch more and more games, therefore seeing the stars of the whole league throughout the year.  Whereas in decades previous you had just your local broadcasts or a seat at the rink, it made sense to have a game where fans could see the other stars of the game with whom they might not be familiar.  All pretty valid reasons, but as far as I’m concerned not enough to end the game.

Stamkos-Richards-St.Louis Line in Action (Source: Jim Courteau)

I love the All Star Game not because I get to see star skaters and net-minders I’ve never seen before (between cable and the NHL Game Center package, I’ve seen them all), but because I get to see them play on the same sides of the puck and to see old teammates reunited.  For example, last year Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis were selected to attend the event in Raleigh, NC, and Brad Richards (then with Dallas) was to be there as well.  I was excited at the prospect of watching Richards and St. Louis skate together again, conjuring up images of when Tampa Bay took home the Stanley Cup in 2004.  I was then curious as to how throwing Stamkos with those two on the same line would work… well it worked well!  After watching them cruise through the blue-line over and over, the magic I had been waiting and wanting to see happened as Richards fed St. Louis who fed Stamkos for a goal.

Moving away from the ice and All Stars, the other reason, and really the main reason for me, is the chance to meet fans of the game that are as passionate about it as I am.  It’s quite the experience to be in a conversation with a number of fans and you look around and see Tampa Bay, San Jose, Buffalo, Carolina, and Edmonton sweaters in the same group all having fun talking up their teams, chirping the others, and just talking about the game in general.  Some of my most favorite memories from the 2011 All Star Game were from the different people I met, especially a lovely group of Canadians that adopted @AmySnow17 (of Blades of Teal) and myself for the weekend.

Aside from that, it is another event on the League Calendar to celebrate this game.  Yes there is the Winter Classic, but being that game has been a game played between two rivals, it becomes more about those two teams than the sport in general.  Now THN’s Adam Proteau proposed to combine the two events, making the All Star Game be the Winter Classic.  I like the idea, but it will never happen as the league makes big money off of both events.  As far as what I would like to see happen with the current format of the All Star Game?  Prior to the draft of this year and last, it was mentioned that the draft was akin to the skaters throwing their sticks out on the ice and having the Captains pick the sticks for their players.  If that were to happen it would add a whole other dimension to the game, as there could be no strategy or picking teammates.  We would have a chance to see Leafs playing with Sens, Flyers playing with Bruins on the same side of the puck, whereas I noted last night on twitter, it was clear that lines were drawn between rivals.

No matter what the future holds for the All Star Games, I will always look forward to them, and the chance to attend another one in person.  Hope you all enjoy it as well.  Go Team Alfie!  BetheTHUNDER and beRELENTLESS

Take care and take it easy,
– Jim Courteau

Follow me on twitter @BlackSheepJim and of course @BoltsByTheBay

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