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NHL ALL-STAR WEEKEND; WHY IT WAS A SUCCESS
This weekend’s NHL All-Star game and skills competition in Nashville was full of highlights, good stories and entertainment. For an event that has drawn plenty of criticism in the past, the NHL seems to have finally got it right. Here are 3 reasons why the 2016 version of the game was a success.
1. The John Scott saga.
For those of you who are unaware of the situation, John Scott is an NHL enforcer. In 285 career NHL games, he has only 5 goals, but has 38 career regular-season fights. Simply put, in an event intended to showcase the skills of the best hockey players on Earth, enforcers do not make the cut. They generally use the break to ice their knuckles and rest up. But this year was different. Scott was voted in by NHL fans, in what seemed to be intended as a mockery of the league’s voting system, and the league initially wasn’t happy about it. In a superb article in The Players’ Tribune, Scott shares how the league tried to get him to bow out.
Even stranger, the Arizona Coyotes – whom Scott started the year with and was the only member of the team voted to the game – traded Scott to the Montreal Canadiens a week before the break, putting his status for the game in question.
But Scott, with support from his peers and NHL fans, decided to retain his spot despite being sent to the minors instantly by his new club. So interestingly, as a member of an AHL team in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Scott captained the Pacific division squad wearing a teamless NHL jersey.
And how did it turn out? Well, all he did was score 2 goals (including one on this first shift of the game) and earn the MVP all while being the clear fan favourite all weekend.
When it was all said and done, it made a memorable storyline and highlighted what turned out to be the most entertaining All-Star Weekend perhaps in NHL history.
2. 3-on-3 mini games.
This year, the NHL implemented 3-on-3 overtime to reduce the number of shootouts to decide outcomes, and it’s been widely regarded as a success. It’s also the first year they used the format for the All-Star game. The speed and creativity generated by the format has made for entertaining overtimes, and exciting moments for fans throughout the league and the All-Star game was no different.
In past years, the All-Star game has been widely considered a bore, with a lack of effort from the players, but this year was considerably more entertaining. Each division played two 10 minute periods against each other within their respected conferences, with the winners of each game meeting in the final. Scott and the Pacific Division ended up beating the Atlantic divison 1-0 in the final where John Scott (see above) was named MVP.
3. The personalities
Almost as much as being able to showcase their skills, the All-Star weekend is a great opportunity for players to showcase their personalities and have some fun. Whether it was P.K Subban dressing as old-school Jaromir Jagr, or Brent Burns’ self-deprecating Chewbacca impression and getting their kids into the action, the festivities allowed fans to see a different side of it’s stars and left fans in Nashville and across the league excited for the annual event in the future.
The NHL has announced that the 2017 All-Star game will be held at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, and after this year’s event the hype and excitement surrounding the festivities is undoubtedly at an all-time high.
The NHL’s regular season resumes Tuesday.