Question of the Week is a weekly feature that poses a question to Raw Charge writers and other writers within the Boltosphere, discussing the ins and outs of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Goodbye NHL first-half, hello All-Star weekend.
It's the once-in-a-lifetime chance where we get to ditch our favorite teams, and see what happens when we shake things up a bit, mixing rivalries and player dynamics, putting the best with the best.
And as you know, this year things are different.
To stir up the "competitive juices" and "make the game more fun for everyone involved," the All-Star game has gone fantasy, as team captains for each side will select from a pool of players chosen by both fan balloting and the NHL Hockey Operations Department (via NHL.com).
So with the NHL pause, this week we bring the All-Star game to the table, asking:
"Do you think the new All-Star Game format will be successful or make the game relevant, and why? If not, what would you do instead?"
Follow the jump for Raw Charge staff's take on the All-Star format.
I think the game is always "successful" in the eyes of NHL executives, and always anything-but to NHL fans. Too often the All-Star game falls into a gimmick, and while the gimmick is interesting the first or second time, it gets old, fast. The format from the early part of the 21st century had "North America versus the World" - which seemed interesting at first, but then clearly resulted in true All-Stars being passed over in order to fill out the World roster. So, my first thought looking at the new format is a gimmick that will soon grow old...
As for how I would make the game relevant - actually, I'd realize the game is irrelevant in itself and do what I could to highlight the break in NHL play, the season so-far, and these selected stars and what they've accomplished for themselves and their teams.
That's what's lost at current with all All-Star competitions in pro sports: Their point is to celebrate the game, and the best and brightest of their sport. Instead of highlighting players and their personalities, the focus is on the gimmicks and the sideshows that go on during the lead up to the All Star game itself. I like the Super Skills competition, but the NHL ruins that event with camera gimmicks and other nonsense.
With the surprise element because of the teams being decided by a fantasy draft, it is already more interesting than years before.
Because the All-Star game will never mean anything to the regular season, this may be as relevant as the All-Star game can get. The picking of teams by the captains allows for questions like "will Staal pick his brother for his team?" or "will the Sedins be split up?", and because the teams won't be decided till the Friday of the All-Star weekend, it allows for plenty of buildup about who the captains might pick.
I don't concern myself very much with the All-Star Game. From keeping up with the blogosphere, I gather that is pretty universal... among bloggers. But bloggers aren't really the people the ASG appeals to, is it? The blogo peeps are hardcore fans, in-depth types, who are concerned with the playoff race, standings, seeding, etc. But who is the ASG for?
It's for three groups: kids, new or potential fans, and the fans in the host city. I thought the game and the skills competition was pretty "radical" when I was a kid. Wow, all those players. And OMG! There's BRIAN BRADLEY! It's really him!
And for marginal or new fans, the ASG let's them learn about stars they haven't been exposed to before. If I wanted to get into a sport, an All Star event would be something I would check out. And I understand the events are pretty cool to attend, so if it was in my city I would definitely turn out to try and spot some of the faces in the crowd.
But for me? I'll follow with only mild interest. I'm glad they're tinkering and trying to keep it fresh. I thought this year's format changes were ballsy. I'll watch the highlights, but I'll probably take my kid skating that afternoon instead of watching the game. When he's old enough to start caring, that's when I'll watch again.
Let's be real: the All-Star game isn't my cup of tea. I am a creature of habit, and when I get used to one team, it's pretty difficult for me to find "fun" in mixing things up for the fun of it.
That being said, I'm neither into the fantasy realm of sports (yet?), nor American Idol. Nothing about fan voting resonates with me.
Letting go of my own grievances for a minute, the format fits in with current entertainment trends, so from that perspective, sure it's more relevant. And, come on, we get the conference versus conference approach on a regular basis, so it makes some deal of sense to mix it up.
Thanks, Bettman. Way to keep the NHL cool.
Is the All-Star game more relevant? Yes. Do I care? No. In other words, I want my team back.
And make sure you check out last week's question, covering the most important prospect in the Tampa Bay Lightning system.