The NHL All-Star Weekend is a beloved time of year for all hockey fans, as it is a great way to get to know your favorite players’ personalities, see the best of the best showcase their skills, and watch top players from each team play on the same team during the All-Star game. The league will select 32 players to participate in the All-Star weekend, and will also hold a fan vote to select 12 additional players to join.
This year, All-Star weekend is set to start on Thursday, February 1 in Toronto. It consists of a three day event, with the player draft on Thursday, skills competitions on Friday, and a three-on-three showcase from the brand new Professional Women’s Hockey League and the fan favorite All-Star game on Saturday.
The NHL announced a few days ago that they have decided to resurrect the player draft before the All-Star game. During the player draft, the league will name four different captains, one from each division, who will then select their team out of the All-Star players. In the past, this has been a fun process for both the players and fans, as it allows for the fans to see the relationships between the players and get to know them as people, not just hockey stars. When asked about the goal of resurrecting the player draft was, Steve Mayer, the NHL chief content officer, stated that, “we’re looking for humor… we’re looking to bring out player personality.”
One of the most memorable moments of the player draft in recent history was Alex Ovechkin in 2015 with his “free car” campaign. The player that was selected last in the player draft would be awarded with a free car, and Ovechkin was determined to be that player. He even went as far as to hold up a sign in front of his face that said, “I want to be last, I need a car.” Of course, Ovechkin is arguably the best player of his generation, and was selected far from last. Another memorable moment was from the 2011 player draft, when Phil Kessel was the last player to be selected. Although this would be rather embarrassing, everyone laughed it off, as Kessel is one of the best players from his time, and it is already a great feat to be selected to participate in the games to begin with.
In order to avoid this kind of thing happening again this year, the NHL has decided to make a few changes in regards to the draft. When there are four players remaining to be selected, they will bring in a celebrity guest to choose what players go to each team. These celebrity guests will also assist the captains in making other decisions throughout the weekend.
The NHL also decided to make a few changes to their skills competition this year. In the past, this competition included aspects that didn’t necessarily showcase the players' unique skills and talents. This year, the league asked for input from players, fans, and broadcasters on how they can make it more fun for everyone to watch and participate in. We can expect more hockey related skills during the competition this year, and it will be a great way for fans to really see what these players are capable of.
Overall, the NHL All-Star weekend is a great way for fans to see players’ personalities and relationships, and is a great way to expose newer fans to different players from all over the league. There are always a lot of fun things that happen throughout this weekend, and with these new changes this year, we can certainly expect another eventful All-Star Weekend.