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Thursday January 20, 2011 12:01 am

The NHL All-Star Game’s brand new look




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, NHL,

Steven StamkosThe National Hockey League is making a noticeable effort to grow its brand. We’ve seen it in the Winter Classic, the HBO special and even in their die-hard refusal to admit there’s anything wrong with any of the teams along the Sunbelt. Another part of that growth involves this year’s All-Star Game. After taking a year off due to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the NHL has made some changes to the lineup of festivities.

The biggest change of course is the team assignments. No longer will it be East vs West or North American vs World, it’s simply going to be a draft like it were a street hockey game. Two captains will pick their teams on the Friday night of All-Star Weekend (and event that will probably get more viewers than the game itself). The league is hoping to create interesting storylines from potential lineups, such as Crosby and Ovechkin playing together, or seeing the Sedin brothers on opposing sides.

One of the bigger jokes of this All-Star Game is the poorly-conceived “Guardian Project,” where comic book guru Stan Lee has personally designed 30 NHL “guardians,” each based on an NHL team (for example, “The Penguin” or “The Canadien”). Nobody seems to be taking this seriously. Unless good ol’ Stan is doing this out of the good of his heart, it seems like it’s wasted money for the NHL. We’ll have to wait and see what the league has in store for the Guardians at the game itself before we truly decide if this is as bad as Fox’s glow puck idea of yesteryear.

Bonus marks go to the NHL for putting their thinking caps on, but in a sports world where everybody is trying to make a splash overseas, maybe instead of tinkering with the format in weak hockey markets, why not take the All-Star game to Europe and give the fans there a chance to see the majority of the NHL stars instead of the two or three they may be privy to in the seasons’ opening games. There will also be more incentive for the players to compete. An All-Star Game in Europe will give many fans a first impression for non-European players, and there will be a few players won’t want to disappoint. Knowing the way the NHL has changed lately, expect this idea to fly before the Coyotes go bankrupt again.

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