The Press Box Perspective: All-Star Weekend in the NHL

By Andrew Zuhosky

This Sunday, right before the NFL’s biggest stars converge on Orlando’s Camping World Stadium for the annual Pro Bowl Game, the NHL’s best stars will take to the rink inside the Staples Center in Los Angeles for the NHL All-Star Game.

So, here’s a question I want to ask you: Will you watch the game this Sunday?

The general consensus for people on this question might be “Yeah, I may as well watch the game. There’s no meaningful NFL game this week and the NBA Sunday package doesn’t start for a few more weeks. I’ll check it out.”

If you watch, here is something important you’ll need to know: The NHL All-Star Game is formatted differently than the other all-star games in other sports. Rather than a traditional East vs. West format, the NHL breaks its all-star game down into mini-games in a tournament pitting the best players from the league’s four divisions against one another.

This is the second year for the format in the NHL All-Star Game. Here’s how it works:

The first two mini-games are semifinals. All mini-games are played as 3-on-3 contests.

Each mini-game is played in two 10-minute periods. Should there be a tie score after the second period of a mini-game, penalty shots will decide the winner.

Winning squads from the semifinals progress through to the final, where $1 million awaits the champion.

In addition, this year’s All-Star Game will be the first to air on broadcast television in over a decade. The game will be televised live on NBC Sports this Sunday at 4:00 p.m. EST. It’s the first NHL All-Star Game to be aired on over-the-air television since ABC’s coverage of the All-Star Game in 2004, the last year that ESPN and ABC televised the NHL.

If any of you out there are still unsold on the game, how about this: Pittsburgh Penguins captain and forward Sidney Crosby was awarded the captaincy of the Metropolitan Division’s all-star team, with Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella serving as the team’s head coach.

Washington Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin will play on the team as well.

I don’t know about you, but I’m really interested to see how Crosby and Ovechkin play as teammates, especially considering that they’re usually archrivals.

Still, there’s an awfully negative attitude that people have about hockey. They’ll often say “Oh, it’s just hockey. I don’t watch hockey. I don’t like hockey.”

I’ve heard this kind of talk from people again and again. It really upsets me that people badmouth the sport of hockey when it’s such a great sport.

I watch the NHL every now and then and I’m entertained by the games every time I watch.

Case in point: Over New Year’s weekend, in-between watching football, I turned on the NHL Centennial Classic from Toronto and the NHL Winter Classic from St. Louis the next day.

I watch NHL Network every so often in addition to watching and listening to NHL games whenever I can.

The idea that people hate on hockey just because it’s cool to hate on hockey is a very troubling idea. Think about it: In the future, if people continue to badmouth hockey, the sport could lose its appeal with fans all over. I don’t want to see that happen, ever.

So, in conclusion, I implore you to watch the NHL All-Star Game this Sunday. Give hockey a chance. Can you do that?