Puck Daddy via Bob McKenzie – “There’s going to be a 3-on-3 mini-game format for the All-Star Game. The National Hockey League Players Association recently signed off on that format, and the expectation is that the League will be making some sort of formal announcement about it tomorrow.
“What we believe to be the case is that the fantasy draft will be dead. Instead, there will be four divisional teams – nine or 10 skaters apiece, a couple of goaltenders. The two teams in the Eastern Conference would play a 20-minute mini-game. The two teams in the Western Conference would play a 20-minute mini-game. And then you would have the two winners play a 20-minute mini-game.”
Anybody who has watched even just a minute of 3-on-3 overtime so far this year in the NHL knows that it is exhilarating. Last night the Philadelphia Flyers lost to the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 in a shootout, but the 5 minutes of 3-on-3 overtime leading up to the shootout were some of the most exciting minutes in hockey that I can remember. It’s just back and forth. It’s chaos. It’s not actually hockey but that’s what is so great about it. And according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the NHL All Star game will move away from the fantasy draft format this year and instead of having 2 teams play in a 60-minute game which starts to lose it’s flair by the end of the first period, the NHL will now have 4 teams (one per division) that will compete in a mini-game 3-on-3 tournament. And I couldn’t be any more boned up about it.
The thing about the NHL All Star game as it stands right now is that it’s essentially the same thing as 3-on-3 already where teams don’t play defense and they just try to spring guys on breaks down the other end of the ice. The only problem with that is that over a 60-minute time span, that can start to get a little boring. So moving to 20 minute games is going to be much more entertaining for fans. Again, it’ll just be three mini games that are filled with nothing but chaos and plenty of open ice for some of the game’s greatest players to do unbelievable things. When the league moved to the Fantasy Draft format and away from the conference vs conference or North America vs World, it was meant to make the All Star Weekend feel more like a bunch of kids just playing out on the pond and picking teams. But if you really want to make it feel like some schoolyard puck, 3-on-3 is the way to go and I think the NHL may have just saved the All Star Game.
Now the only downside to this new format, of course, is that it does get rid of the Fantasy Draft and will just consist of one All Star team per division. Which means that we won’t get opportunities to see players get drunk on live television throughout the draft process like Ovi did last January. I guess the players will just have to find another way to work booze into the weekend. They could do the skills competition drunk or just turn the 3-on-3 tournament into a beer league and have everyone drinking on the bench. Either way, they can’t have a completely sober weekend so I guess those are the final details that the league is working out before they officially announce the format change. But yeah, A+ idea all around and I’m sure that everyone besides Erik Karlsson and Dustin Byfuglien are pumped about it.
Best 3-on-3 Lineup For Each Division:
Atlantic: PK Subban (Montreal), Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay), Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit), Carey Price (Montreal)
Metro: Keith Yandle (NYR), Alex Ovechkin (Washington), John Tavares (NYI), Henrik Lundqvist (NYR)
Pacific: Drew Doughty (LAK), Joe Pavelski (San Jose), Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary), Jonathan Quick (LAK)
Central: Ryan Suter (Minnesota), Tyler Seguin (Dallas), Patrick Kane (Chicago), Jake Allen (St. Louis)
Obviously there are plenty of other guys in each division that could make the cut but this would be my dream scenario. I think that the Metro would top the Atlantic just because they’ll be playing full 20-minute periods and not just a sudden death game. If it were sudden death then maybe I’d give the Atlantic the edge but that’s not the case. And then I think that the Central would roll over the Pacific. And then the Central would roll over the Metro in the final game because holy shit the Pacific is stacked.
Can’t wait! It’s gonna be so much fun!