The people have spoken and the league has listened.
For a few years now, whenever I bring up the subject of the All-Star game, a lot of people have groaned, a few people have told me they don't watch it, and others have said they only watch hockey that weekend for the skills competition. Well, I think the league was listening to popular opinion and they've decided to change things up this year with a 3 on 3 format.
According to The Score, the All-Star game will take place in Nashville, Tennessee on January 31, 2016. The newly instated 3 on 3 format will mean that the Central Division will play the Pacific Division and the Metro Division will play the Atlantic Division. The winner from each of those match-ups will move on to play a third game, which will determine a final winner. The games will be 20 minutes long and the teams will include 6 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 2 goalies from each division.
Like last year, I'm expecting that Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Giordano will be asked to join the plethora of players that will meet in Nashville for a fun weekend of hockey because they are some of the best in the league. As well, if I could add to the roster, I'd throw in T.J. Brodie for good measure because he's still one of the best defensemen in the league. Out of sheer curiosity, I'd like to see him in the skills competition. I already know he'd be great during the 3 on 3 at the game, but I'd like to see what he brings to the table in skills.
If anyone remembers last year's skills competition, Johnny made a splash as Voracek's "little kid" during the Breakaway Challenge. After Ryan Johansen grabbed one of the kids from the bench to help him during the challenge, Vorachek grabbed little Johnny Gaudreau to help him out. Let's face it, that was the highlight of the weekend! I don't know what was more funny, the play itself or the laughter from all the players sitting on the sidelines.
Ok, back to the actual game. I have always watched the All-Star game because, well...hockey. Granted, I haven't been as invested in the All-Star game as I was in past years, but it was still a good excuse to watch the sport. This season, I expect a boost in viewership because I've been hearing mostly good things about the newly adopted 3 on 3 overtime during the regular season. And I think the game will gain back some viewers after a couple of lean years. Whether it's curiosity or because they genuinely like 3 on 3, I hope this change brings back some viewers.
Personally, I really like the 3 on 3 overtime format during plays, and I think it was a good choice by the league to try this format in the All-Star game. It's faster-paced hockey, and we get to see what the players are really made of because they have more ice to cover, which means it's a lot more of a physical challenge for them. This change will show us what the players are really made of. As well, I like 3 on 3 because the open ice lends a hand to setting up and executing plays more efficiently. There's also an old-school feel of pond-hockey, which I think is more intense than the regular 5 on 5 format.
I'm really looking forward to this year's All-Star game for the first time in a few years. I'd look forward to it even more if Brodie was invited to play.