Love it or hate it, the NHL's all-star game returned to a loud reception from the Vegas faithful.
The skills competition was fun thanks to a couple of new events. But the main show is always the second day, the tournament. But at this point, it's becoming a bit of an afterthought, and something is going to need to change to spice it up.
When the 3-on-3 division format was rolled out six years ago, it was a welcome change from the usual slog. The idea revived things for a bit, but it just feels like the wall was hit again.
So how can we bring a little more life back into the game again? There should be a little more on the line in the games - not just for players, but for fans as well.
Here's an idea: we can keep the four-team format, but let's look to the NHL video game world for help.
In the EA Sports NHL series, NHL Threes is a brilliant reimaging of 3-on-3 with very few penalties, crazy hits, no offsides, no icing and pure insanity. It's a great way to blow off steam, but the real kicker is the introduction of the money puck. Completely randomized, some goals will mean more than others, whether it's getting multiple goals at a time or taking your opponent's goals away.
It's completely random, just like the sport of hockey.
The mode can be brought to real life in a way that could be profitable to both players and the fans in attendance. For example, every player can earn money for every goal, assist, save, and total points during the tournament to help incentivize things.
With this format, the pucks that take away goal totals can come into play financially. If scored on, not only will it decrease a team's score total, but so will the money earned by a team or a player, too.
It wouldn't be like watching the Stanley Cup final, but when money comes into play in an important way, it could really shake things up and force players to try a bit more. And it gets the fans involved in a big way, too, which is big considering that's what the event is all about. Nobody goes to the game for great hockey - they go for a fun experience.
The All-Star Game has been a staple of the NHL calendar for generations and it has to find a way to evolve. Giving players a little more incentive for wanting to be a part of the game and fans a new reason to watch might be a way to inject a little more life into the mid-season affair.