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NHL alters All-Star game format

November 10, 2010 |  4:32 pm

Nhlallstar.logo_300 The NHL All-Star game, which seems to exist more for sponsors than for the enjoyment of players and fans, will undergo some major changes after its one-year Olympic absence.

The next game, to be played Jan. 30 at Raleigh, N.C., will not have the East-vs.-West format and will instead be a kind of fantasy contest with the captains of each side choosing their teammates in a draft to be held the Friday before the game. Players will also select who faces who in the skill contests.

The NHL and the NHL Players’ Assn. announced the changes Wednesday and are expected to provide more details during a conference call with reporters Thursday.

If the changes make people care about the All-Star game again, that’s great. Players try to avoid it like the plague, and a 2008 league mandate decreed that any player who claims an injury to avoid participating must sit out his team’s last game before All-Star weekend or the first game afterward. In a ridiculous move by a league that makes several dozen of them a day, Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk were each suspended for a game after they skipped the 2009 All-Star game to recover from nagging injuries. At least neither lost his salary for that one-game exile.

Years ago the All-Star game matched the previous season’s Stanley Cup winner against a star-studded team, and there’s some appeal to that. Does this new fantasy-style format make the game and the surrounding festivities more interesting? Leave your comments and suggestions here.

--Helene Elliott