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Question of the Day: Are changes to NHL All-Star game good or bad for the sport? [Updated]

January 12, 2011 |  8:56 am

Writers from around the Tribune Co. weigh in on the new format for the NHL All-Star game. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Joseph Schwerdt, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Nhl-logo_200 It seems the NHL is always in search of that special formula to cure its ills -– from cancelling the season in a failed attempt to fix its economics to the brilliance of the outdoor Winter Classic. As for the All-Star game, change seems to be the norm.

This year, fans voted only for some All-Stars, a good change considering the dramatic differences in fan interest from city to city. The proof? Only players from Pittsburgh and Chicago were voted in.

The bottom line on changes is this: Whether they play East vs. West, U.S. vs. World or team captains choosing sides (this year’s format), does it really matter? At least some people are talking about the NHL. Heck, we’re writing about it, aren’t we? For hockey, that’s a good change.

[Updated at 2:44 p.m.:

Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times

The best change to the NHL All-Star Game would be to eliminate it altogether, and the league seems headed that way with a new format this season that’s based not on geography or nationality but on a supposed return to childhood pickup teams.

The All-Star Game doesn’t take place in Olympic years, and no one seems to miss it except sponsors. No one hits in All-Star games, and what’s the point if there’s no hitting at all?

A return to the old format, in which the defending Stanley Cup champion played an all-star team from the rest of the league, might at least provide some rooting interest. This format creates no emotional ties for fans and just seems like a thrown-together solution until someone can think of something better.

Chris Korman, Baltimore Sun

Obviously the NHL is still -– and probably always will be -– in the position of marketing itself whenever possible. Gimmicks, especially in years when the Olympics aren’t there to draw attention the sport, are a way to build audience, even in the short term.

But the new concept also offers intrigue for diehard fans, who will be anxious to see how the respective captains go about building a team. The format also might add gravity to the game. No doubt the players will be transported back to whatever patch of ice they grew up playing on, where 10 kids gathered every afternoon and picked sides. From there, you played only for pride. Even players now making millions of dollars will recall that feeling.

While the game will still lack defense and physical play, the passion for representing the captain who picked you will be a good thing for fans old and new.]