According to Legends of Hockey “Greg Polis learned to play hockey in the tiny northern Alberta farm community of Dapp. When there weren’t enough kids around to play hockey, he improved his stickhandling by playing keep-away with his Labrador Retriever.”
In the 1970s the All-Star game held some interest for a few reasons. First, there were way fewer games weekly so some of these players hadn’t really been seen before (Polis turned a few heads in each of his appearances, he was really good) and there weren’t many no-show’s so the cream of the crop was on the ice.
The problems with the current setup are multiple and probably fatal: there will be a new format eventually. The main problem with any game of this type is that it doesn’t count in the standings so who the hell cares? My choices for Sunday are the NHL All-Star game, skating with the family outdoors and then going to the Oil Kings game, or renting movies and making sure the sofa doesn’t fly away.
Considering just how much time each winter I spend staring at the NHL, I’d be an even bigger piss-ant than I already am if I insisted on watching a game of little interest. Also, it’s such a boring game that even though there will be something worth seeing in this case a nice two minutes highlight package seems ideal and I can catch that anytime before bedtime Sunday night.
What would the NHL need to do in order to make it matter to me? How about this:
- Two games. One pitting Canada against the United States All-Stars, the other pitting Sweden/Finland against Russia/Czech. The Germans and Swiss and other countries can choose their poison.
- All proceeds to the players. That way they’ll all show and and they’ll all compete.
- A doubleheader. The first a modified top prospects game featuring the best young players outside the NHL (including Europe) and the second using the current format.
- Give a major carrot to the winning team. Aside from money what do these players want? Maybe the NHL teams should agree to a deal in which all of the players on the winning team don’t have to show up to training camp until 10 days after everyone else in the fall.
- Adjust the draft order. If the Western Conference All-Stars win then the Western teams all pick in front of the East (#1 pick-worst team in the West, #2-worst team in the East, #3-second worst team in the West) with lottery picks allowing teams to move up only on their allotted side (if an Eastern team wins the lottery the highest they can pick is second).
- Give a new car to everyone in the MVP’s extended family. Mom, Dad, Sis, Auntie Mame, Uncle Albert, Admiral Halsey.
The main problem for any All-Star game is that it doesn’t count in the standings. My favorite all star memories are things like Gordie Howe playing well at his final one (1980? sounds right) or Tim Raines showcasing his wonderful talents.
Or Greg Polis. So maybe they should try to write a script in which a surprise player rises to the top. A quality player known to most but still obscure enough to be interesting. Shawn Horcoff, that kind of guy.
Other than that, I’m out. It’s a tough sell and the sofa calls.