The NHL All-Star Game exists for three audiences.
There are the fans in the city in which it’s held, who fill seats in the arena and jam the convention center Fan Fest for a glimpse at the Selke Trophy; the sponsors, who fill suites in the arena and get that photo op with Adam Pelech they always wanted; and, most of all, the viewers tuning in around the world.
OK, make that four audiences, including me.
I love NHL All-Star Weekend. I say that without hesitation or the kind of inherent cynicism you might have expected from this columnist or anyone native to the great state of New Jersey. Not always for what happens on the ice, because your mileage for exhibition hockey will vary. But because of its unpredictability in form and format.
It’s where the NHL allows itself to get a little weird — witness this season’s shootout in the Bellagio’s fountains, or that time Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks had a shootout attempt in a Chewbacca mask.
But there are times when we had to force the league to get a little weirder, like when we helped elect John Scott to the All-Star Game in 2016 and, despite the NHL’s objections, he played and won MVP honors.
Sure, it cost us the ability to vote in players, but the proof is in the ratings.
Here are eight other ways the NHL can make a great event even better: some of it logical, and some of it delightfully weird.