The NHL is trying out something new for this season’s upcoming All-Star Weekend in Toronto. In an attempt to revamp the event, they are establishing some brand new ideas, as well as bringing back a fan-favorite from years ago. The question is whether or not this is all necessary.
What the NHL is changing?
The All-Star Weekend has typically been held on a Friday and Saturday in the middle of the season. Friday is all about the skills competition, which is being worked on, while Saturday hosts the anticipated All-Star Game.
The NHL has decided to expand the weekend this season, adding in an All-Star Thursday. The purpose of this new day is to contain a feature that was used in previous All-Star Weekends but has since been sidelined: the player draft.
On All-Star Thursday, the All-Star captains will get to draft the players who will play with them in the All-Star Game.
The last time a player draft occurred during All-Star Weekend was in 2015. The PWHL, Professional Women’s Hockey League, will also be competing in a 3-on-3 showcase game during All-Star Weekend.
Are these changes necessary?
The NHL has been looking for ways to reinvigorate All-Star Weekend. Other sporting events like this, such as the NFL’s Pro Bowl, have also seen a bit of stagnation with these all-star events.
The skills competition last season was widely considered as one of the worst so it’s no surprise that changes are being made to that.
The NHL also hopes that by reintroducing the player draft, they will be able to bring out a level of energy from both the players and fans that hasn’t been seen before.
Quirks, such as the last man standing in the draft getting a car, have led to fun circumstances in the past as players will actively try to not get chosen.
By making All-Star Weekend more of a fun competition, rather than an extension of the regular season, it’ll be easier for players and fans alike to relax and enjoy themselves.
The inclusion of the PWHL is something to look forward to as well. Women’s hockey has been building itself up to the level of its male peers. They have slowly started to be included in past All-Star Weekends, participating in the skills competitions.
With the success of the women’s Canadian hockey team during the 2022 Olympics, women’s hockey is gaining the respect it deserves.
The NHL is doing the right thing by including them in All-Star Weekend. The PWHL will bring a new fanbase to All-Star Weekend and get the chance to showcase their skills to fans of the NHL.
Verdict on All-Star Weekend
All in all, these changes being implemented sound like a really good idea. By injecting more fun and bringing the focus back down to what makes hockey such a great sport, All-Star Weekend should hopefully see more engagement than in years past.
Giving the players, both from the NHL and the PWHL, a chance to let loose on the ice and have some fun will boost morale for the rest of their respective seasons. The point of the All-Star Weekend is to entertain, after all.