Report: NHL might scrap All-Star Game in favor of international event
The decision would likely be met by anger from some fans, but it could also make sense
The NHL All-Star Game has been somewhat of a shapeshifting beast over the years. A lot about the annual midseason event has changed, from the game's format to the way teams are picked and how players are voted in. But soon the league's All-Star Game may cease to exist altogether.
According to a recent report from Sportsnet's Chris Johnston, the NHL and NHL Players Association are discussing the possibility of getting rid of the All-Star Game in favor of an international event overseas. Though details are scarce on what that new event would look like, the league seems focused on growing its brand internationally.
That might sound a bit strange, especially considering the NHL is opting not to send its players to the next Winter Olympics, which is the biggest international stage for hockey. But the IOC won't allow the NHL to directly market its own brand at the Olympics or take a share of the revenue that comes with letting players participate. Ultimately, the NHL decided it wasn't worth shutting down their season for more than two weeks to let players compete in the Olympics, and instead they've decided to focus their international efforts elsewhere.
As for waxing the All-Star Game, that could be a decision that is met with polarizing reactions from hockey fans. For better or for worse, the annual event is typically pretty goofy and gimmicky. Some traditionalists scoff at how far it strays from legitimate hockey, but it's one of the few events on the NHL calendar that allows players to let their guard down. It's a rare opportunity for players to showcase individual personality without being weighed down by a hockey culture that often discourages guys from bringing attention to themselves or operating outside of a "team-first" mentality.
If the NHL gets rid of the All-Star Game, are they going to encourage players to find other ways to market themselves as individuals? It's a question worth asking.
In the end, though, the NHL is likely going to do whatever it sees best for its own bank account. The All-Star Game isn't typically a boon for new fans, as the majority of interest seems to come from folks already committed to the sport rather than people checking in to see what it's all about. The NHL could see an opportunity for more long-term growth and profit by switching to a midseason event that targets new fans with a more authentic representation of the game in international markets overseas.
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