Hollywood’s bright lights are perfect for the NHL’s All-Star Game festivities in 2017
What better setting for the NHL to shine than under the bright lights of Hollywood? Well, Los Angeles, but who’s splitting hairs? The NHL All-Star Game weekend is underway in Los Angeles this weekend and the build up to the league’s showcase looks to be a star-studded event in many ways.
First, the musical acts booked for this weekend’s festivities show a direct outreach by the NHL to grab the younger, dare I say, “hip” crowd with artists like Fifth Harmony, Nick Jonas and Carly Rae Jepsen. Also, Snoop Dogg, because why not, right?
I couldn’t name a song by Fifth Harmony or Nick Jonas at the moment, and the last time I heard of Carly Rae Jepsen she was asking all of us to call her … maybe. But, from what the kids are into these days, this looks like a pretty good lineup to supplement the action on the ice.
Also, Snoop Dogg!
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Musical acts aside, the weekend is set up to be a huge success for the NHL. Now it’s on the players involved to deliver. Which, let’s be honest, is the least of anyone’s worries.
Fun before the actual All-Star Game
The biggest question looms around the format of the Skills Challenge on Saturday.
Of course, fastest skater, hardest shot and the relay are all still major parts of the Skills Challenge. But gone is the prop-fest that was the Breakaway Challenge, and in its place is the Four-Line Challenge.
Basically, two players from each division will have two shots to shoot from the blue line, red line, opposite blue line and opposite goal line and try to pick corners or go five hole on the net.
The best part of the event, in my opinion, is the inclusion of goalies in the challenge. No longer will goalies at the NHL All-Star Game be there just to be sieves. Now, they’ll have an active role in the Skills Challenge, being able to be substituted for the goal-line shots. Should be a lot of fun. And that is the key to the NHL All-Star weekend, and really any pro sports All-Star Game. Fun.
How can the NHL top its 2016 All-Star weekend?
Speaking of fun, last year’s NHL All-Star weekend may go down as one of the most influential and most visibly fun in the league’s history.
It started and ended with John Scott. Scott stole the headlines, and subsequently the whole show, when he was selected by the fans to be the Pacific Division captain while only having a handful of games under his belt at the time.
Whether the NHL actually tried to hijack the All-Star Game away from Scott is still up for debate, but no one should care at this point because we go back and watch Scott and the rest of the players that weekend. It was awesome because it was evident how much fun everyone was having in the moment.
Especially for Scott, who was named MVP of the first-ever NHL All-Star Game with the new 3-on-3 tournament style of play.
The implementation of the 3-on-3 overtime last season was a huge success. As gimmicky as it may be, who does not love the action of 3-on-3 hockey? The All-Star Game utilizing it throughout the contests was no exception.
Jaromir Jagr pled for fans not to vote him into the All-Star Game out of fear of maybe dying due to the constant fast-paced games. All in fun.
No longer was the All-Star Game itself a glorified rat hockey game with no defense and highly skilled players looking like they purposely were only going half-speed. It was back and forth and it was fun, and actually competitive.
Imagine that, something being both fun and competitive. See? The NHL can get it right sometimes.
The league is finally embracing its personalities
One of the biggest things that the league is getting right this time around when promoting the All-Star weekend is promoting the league’s top stars, the faces of the NHL today, in the most fitting Hollywood style.
Then, the NHL went deep into the Hollywood scene and made the All Stars “audition” for their spots for the weekend. A much better way to present some of their personalities and also showcase why none of them will transition to Hollywood very well. Probably:
It’s just the tactic the NHL needed to utilize to grow the recognition of their league and their top players. If you look at the NFL, NBA or even MLB, you can see how well those leagues market “stars” of their games.
NBA matchups aren’t Warriors vs. Cavaliers; it’s Steph Curry vs. LeBron James.
The Super Bowl is Tom Brady and the Patriots vs. Matt Ryan and the Falcons.
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Major League Baseball showcases pitching matchups EVERY DAY.
Yes, I get that the NHL’s approach is to stand on the pedestal of being the ultimate team sport. That’s 100 percent valid and you don’t need to convince me otherwise, but to the casual fan, they couldn’t care less about “Original Six” rivalries or anything like that.
It’s got to be, at least on a surface level, “Sid vs. Ovi” and “McDavid vs. Matthews.” More of “Kane and Toews” as a buddy cop show and embracing “Phil Kessel is a Stanley Cup champion” as a viral trend, so on and so forth.
The NHL needs to get the league’s collective “faces that run the places” front and center and turn NHL stars into global superstars.
More. Of. This.
If the NHL is going to be taken seriously in the major four North American sports realm, it needs to push its superstars harder than it has in the past.
The setting this weekend in Los Angeles is the perfect springboard into the new generation of the NHL. Now it’s up to the league to continue the progress it’s already started.