New NHL All-Star Format Is Creative

Since the lockout ended years ago, the National Hockey League has tried different ways to develop and grow interest in it’s fan base. Rules have been changed, the players have been showcased in the Olympics and teams are now starting to allow fans to blog their thoughts about their favorite teams on their web-sites. These changes have been met with both praise and criticism but have had positive effects.

This season, the NHL decided to alter it’s format for the All-Star Game by allowing two captains, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and Carolina Hurricanes forward Eric Staal, to pick teams based on a group of players the fans voted in. The idea seemed odd at first but may be enough to create more interest in the All-Star Game and make it more interesting for fans.

To start off, the fan voting was not taken out at all and allowed those who spend money on hockey games to still have a say in who gets to participate in the All-Star Game. The fans still had their opportunity to vote who they believed deserved to go and that was not taken away. It allowed the fans to participate and stay interested in who ultimately got to participate.

While having two captains pick the team may sound like it belongs on a school yard playground, none of the other sports leagues have really tried this before and could make the game more competitive. Most of the other professional sports leagues do a conference vs conference or league vs league format while what the NHL is doing is much different from that. It’s allowing two respected players in the NHL pick teams with a draft and there may be a little bit of pride on the line with that. No one wants to be the captain that picked the team that lost and could be incentive for both teams to play hard and give the fans reason to have fun watching it.

By trying this new format, the NHL is trying to distance itself from traditional All-Star Game formats that some fans who follow other sports leagues have considered to be dull or mundane. The NFL Pro-Bowl is often criticized for being a boring game because not much is one the line and there are special rules set up to protect players from making aggressive hits. The NBA All-Star Game has been criticized for not having much defense and allowing the players to simply turn it into a slam dunk competition. The MLB All-Star Game has had numerous criticisms recently in regards to American League dominance (up until this past season), the year it ended in a tie, and not many favor the fact the winning league gets home-field advantage in the World Series. This new NHL format is distancing itself from these formats and may have come up with a way to create fan interest and a more competitive game.

Since the lockout, the NHL has tried different strategies to increase it’s fan base and with this new All-Star format, they may be able to create another niche.

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~ by jeffrsabo on January 29, 2011.

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