The NHL All-Star game took place in Nashville, Tennessee this past weekend with a brand new format. Unlike previous years of the Western Conference battling the Eastern Conference, the NHL adopted a brand new idea. All four divisions would compete in a tournament, with each division being led by a fan-voted captain.
On top of the brand new selection process and tournament, the NHL also implemented a major change into the all-star game. Each game would be played in a three on three style, just like the new and exciting overtime format. Instead of the usual three period format, the games would consist of two 10 minute periods.
This new format created for one of the most entertaining all-star games in a long time. Many fans took to social media to express their new interest in the weekend festivities. All-star games in most professional leagues have been getting ridicule from fans, but the NHL’s new format allowed for fans to enjoy a different style of hockey.
The fan-voted captains were Alexander Ovechkin of the Metropolitan Division, Jaromir Jagr of the Atlantic Division, Patrick Kane of the Central Division and John Scott of the Pacific Division. Ovechkin was replaced by John Tavares as he chose not to participate in the weekend festivities because of a lingering lower-body injury.
Toews also decided to reject his invitation by the league and was replaced by Pittsburgh Penguins forward James Neal. Both Ovechkin and Toews will face a one game suspension by the league for not participating in the all-star weekend.
John Scott, who at the time of the vote was a part of the Arizona Coyotes franchise, was the outcome of a popularity contest for the fan-voting system. The enforcer tallied the most votes despite the fact that he went into the all-star break playing in only 11 games, totaling one point and 25 penalty minutes.
The NHL seemed to take exception to the humour by reportedly being involved in the Coyotes’ decision to trade Scott to the Montreal Canadiens just days after he was named captain of the Pacific Division. Montreal plays in the Atlantic Division which means in theory Scott was no longer eligible to represent the Pacific Division. However, after backlash from the fans who stuck up for their decision to vote in Scott, the NHL allowed Scott to remain the captain of the Pacific Division.
The all-star game began with a skills competition on Saturday night. Each of the 44 all-stars competed in at least one of the six events. Dylan Larkin stole the night by breaking the record in the fastest skater competition with a time of 12.894 seconds. P.K. Subban put on a show impersonating future NHL hall-of-famer Jaromir Jagr in the shootout competition. The Eastern Conference won the skills competition easily with a final score of 29-12.
The main event was the tournament which began Sunday afternoon. The Eastern Conference played the first semi-final game as the Atlantic Division defeated the Metropolitan Division by a score of 4-3. Kris Letang opened up the scoring just a minute in. However the Atlantic bounced back to earn the victory.
The second game of the night was between the Pacific Division and the Central Division. Unlike the game before, this one was full of goals. The Pacific Division, led by a pair of goals by captain Scott, defeated the Central Division 9-6. Daniel Sedin and Taylor Hall also scored a pair of goals. For the Central Division, Patrick Kane had a goal while also jokingly engaging Scott in a fight after the latter made an open-ice check on the former.
The championship game was one of the more competitive all-star games in recent years as no one scored in the first half of the game. That changed in the second period when Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks put the Pacific Division on the board. Perry’s attempt at a second goal was wiped off thanks to a coach’s challenge for goaltender interference by celebrity coach Amy Grant.
In the end, the Pacific Division held onto their 1-0 lead. Scott not only gets to split the million dollar reward with his all-star teammates, but he was also voted as the MVP of the tournament by the fans. He scored two goals in two games, almost half his career NHL total.