The 2016 NHL All-Star Game is upon us. All-Star Weekend is always a fun time for hockey fans and players, and presents a great opportunity for the league to showcase everything great about both the league and the sport. There is a Fan Fair throughout the weekend, featuring live music, mascot/player meet-and-greets and autograph sessions, on-ice NHL player skills challenges, the return of the popular Mascot Challenge, and much more.
All-Star events begin in Nashville, TN starting on January 28, leading up to the main event on January 31. Two big story-lines coming out of Nashville that have dominated All-Star headlines so far: the new format of the game, and the effect that the trade of fan-elected captain John Scott will have on his All-Star candidacy.
Changing the Game
For the first time since the creation of the NHL All-Star Game in 1947, the game’s format will not be standard. The NHL has taken a page from its popular new overtime format and made a series of three twenty-minute 3-on-3 matches. The NHL has created an 11-man team from each of the four divisions. The Central and Pacific Division All-Stars will square off in one semifinal, while the Metropolitan and Atlantic Divisions will face each other in the second game. The winners of each semifinal will then face each other in the final match. For the players, here’s the best part: the team that wins this game will split $1 million in prize money.
All three games will be played in the same 3-on-3 format the NHL uses for regular season overtime games. Expect extensive substitutions to let all the players play in the games, and furious effort in the final match-up as the players go for that sweet $1 million payout. There are detractors, but this format should make for some exciting hockey, even if it isn’t as traditional as it once was.
A New (Old) Captain
NHL fans elected the captains of each of the four All-Star teams. When the voting took place, John Scott was a little-used left wing playing for the Arizona Coyotes of the Pacific Division. It was a surprise then, when Scott was announced as the leader in voting for captain in the Pacific Division. However, Arizona traded Scott to the Montreal Canadiens, who play in the Atlantic Division. The trade and his subsequent demotion to the AHL then placed some doubt as to which team Scott would play for and if he would still be named captain of either team.
Finally on Tuesday, January 19, the NHL announced its decision: Scott would play for, and captain, the Pacific Division squad. The NHL decided with this unique situation that it would side with the fans, and allow him to play where they wanted him. Scott, for his part, was very amicable about the entire process, saying how much of an honor the election is, and that he looks forward to the event.
As for the rest of the NHL All-Stars, here is a complete list.
The NHL All-Star semifinals and finals will be held January 30-31
Images from Collectible Supplies, Ellington CMS, and ESPN