NHL News

2016 NHL All-Star Game Will Feature New Format

By Sean Fitzgerald

The league announced earlier this week that the 2016 NHL All-Star Game format will change. The game used to feature traditional 5-on-5 hockey. The twist to the game since 2011 was that two captains would draft their respective teams. Last year’s All-Star Game featured five Blackhawks players. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford were the representatives last season. Toews was one captain and Columbus’ Nick Foligno was the other in his team’s home city. Team Toews defeated Team Foligno 17-12 in the highest scoring All-Star Game ever.

Despite the success of last year’s All-Star Game, the NHL has decided to capitalize on the success of the new 3-on-3 overtime format and apply it to the ASG.

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Here are the new details on the game courtesy of NHL.com:

— The 2016 All-Star Game will be a three-game tournament played in a 3-on-3 format with a prize pool of $1 million to be paid in its entirety to the tournament’s winning team.

— The tournament will feature four teams, one team representing each division: the Pacific, Central, Metropolitan and Atlantic.

— Each team will be made up of 11 players: six forwards, three defensemen and two goaltenders.

— The 2016 All-Star Fan Vote will allow fans to vote for one All-Star player from each division, without regard to position. The top vote-getter from each division will be named All-Star, as well as captain of his respective team.

— The remaining 40 All-Stars will be named by the NHL Hockey Operations Department for a total of 44 All-Star players, with at least one player selected from each team.

— The Skills Competition returns to a matchup between the Eastern Conference and Western Conference All-Stars on Saturday evening, with the winning conference earning the right to select when their semi-final matchup will be played; first or second on Sunday.

— Each game in the three-game, 3-on-3 tournament will be 20 minutes in length.

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— Teams will change ends at the 10-minute mark of each game. Games that are tied after 20 minutes will be decided by a shootout.

— The Central division All-Stars will face the Pacific division All-Stars, and the Atlantic division All-Stars will face the Metropolitan division All-Stars in the two semifinal games.

— The winners of each semifinal game will play each other in the final to determine the overall tournament champion.

— The four division-leading NHL coaches (best points percentage following the completion of games on January 9) will be named coaches for each of the four All-Star teams

Now the hockey purists will hate the new All-Star Game format because they think 3-on-3 hockey is a gimmick. The idea that 3-on-3 hockey is gimmick is the reason why it works for the All-Star Game, as that itself is a gimmick. It is meant to be exciting for the fans. This game is meant to be ridiculous and different from a normal game. This game will be exciting because 3-on-3 hockey is man-on-man hockey. It also means that there will be a lot of breakaways and goalies facing seemingly impossible situations.

The format, however, will limit the number of players selected from one team. No team is likely to get five All-Stars into the game like the Blackhawks did last season. Some fans might feel jipped because their favorite player is on a team that gets eliminated in the first game. There will be many more people complaining about this game after it is over.

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Personally, I am in favor of the new format. I have never been a big All-Star Game fan because it was a normal game with no defense. Now the game has  a different format and different style. It will be interesting to see the forward line combinations. Will a team be bold enough to use three forwards on the ice at one time? A line of Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and John Tavares would be exciting to watch. Will a team go three defensemen? A line of Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and Dustin Byfuglien would be awesome to see. Will three be 3-on-2 hockey after a penalty? Will teams double- and triple-shift line because it is only one 20 minute period?

Next: Slideshow: Ranking All 34 Blackhawks Captains

If people are looking for the best players in the world to play each other for a full game, I recommend the World Cup of Hockey.