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Hockey All-Star game losing fan interest

By Andre Lodder

What is an NHL All-Star?

In the world of sports, an all-star is someone who exemplifies the attitude and the skill level to perform at the top of his or her sport.

What’s an all-star game?

According to the NHL, it’s getting a bunch of guys who are paid enormous amounts of money to play a non-competitive game of shinny hockey.

Year after year, the all-star games become less and less interesting for fans. It might be because we’re getting older, but it’s probably because the non-competitive game itself is getting old.

The NHL does deserve some credit. They’ve been trying to improve the game for years. Most changes have been unsuccessful minor tweaks, but it’s the major changes that have hit the nail on the head.

For instance, back in 1990 they introduced the SuperSkills Competition. Today, the competition proves to be far more fascinating than the game it precedes.

More recently, the NHL has changed the format on how the two teams are formed. Teams are no longer formed by the conference they represent, but rather chosen by a fantasy draft involving two captains, much like a game of shinny hockey on the pond.

The only downfall to the draft is that for a lot of fans, waiting to see who was picked last has probably become the most nail-biting part of the entire weekend.

It’s no secret something needs to change. It’s no wonder the Winter Classic, a regular-season game played outdoors, has surpassed the all-star game in popularity and it’s only been around for five years.

In fact, according to an ESPN article, ticket sales for the recent all-star game are about 50 percent cheaper than tickets to the Winter Classic, which was held on Jan. 2.

There have been a few suggestions surrounding the all-star game. Don Cherry gave his two cents during Coach’s Corner on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, suggesting the game be played outdoors and teams be chosen by the classic “stick toss.”

It’s true, combining the two events could prove interesting, but it won’t change the tempo of the game, and it won’t be long before the novelty runs out.

The bottom line is that the NHL needs to make the game more competitive. Sure, it’s nice to watch a player deke his way through a defenceman who’s not really trying and score a highlight-reel goal on a goalie who’s not really trying. But fans want to see competition.

The NHL should take a page from Major League Baseball. The MLB All-Star Game pits the American League against the National League with the winner getting home field advantage for the World Series.

The format gives players something to play for and makes the game competitive, which is exactly what fans want to see.

If these players are considered all-stars, then the league should let them play the game like all-stars. There’s enough shinny hockey being played at any local arena.