So the NHL is changing their All-Star Game format to let captains pick out their teams. I like it. It’s novel, it’s unique, and as far as I know no other league has tried it before.
But what I’d really like to see is for the NHL to go back to the day when it used to be the Stanley Cup Champions taking on a group of All-Stars.
Now at this point you may ask what the appeal of watching the Blackhawks, to use this year as an example, play in a meaningless contest when you have 82 other games with something on the line to choose from. Well, for one thing, the Blackhawks wouldn’t be the same watered down version of the team that is on the ice this season. I’m talking about using the actual Cup winning team, which would mean seeing the likes of Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien and Brent Sopel, to name a few, reunite with their old club for one night only.
In an era now where teams inevitably will break up because of the salary cap, seeing the old gang back together for one night would make for an interesting spectacle even if there’s nothing on the line in the game itself. The champions could even tie-in their ring presentation ceremony on that same weekend so the whole team can be together for the occasion instead of having certain players randomly receive their rings at different points int he season. Having a ring presentation ceremony might even draw some extra media attention from the folks already covering the All-Star festivities.
I’m even in favor of a bit of revisionist history if there’s a case where they just can’t get a guy back because he’s injured, playing in another league, or retired (although I think the fans would get a kick out of seeing a retired player – if he’s high profile enough – return for one game). Replacement players could be voted in by the fans out of the pool of players (outside of the champions) that are taking part in the game. How would Alex Ovechkin look streaking down the left side on a line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane? Or how much would Canucks fans cringe to see Henrik Sedin centering a unit with Marian Hossa on his left and Patrick Sharp on his right?
This idea isn’t perfect by any stretch. It may be a tough sell if, god forbid, it were the Florida Panthers or the Phoenix Coyotes versus the NHL All-Stars. But hey, it’s a thought and it can’t be that much worse than what’s been done before.