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The new NHL All-Star game: A reality TV dream come true

By Nicole Weissman

I cam sum up in one word how I feel about the new All-Star game: Awesome. For those who haven’t heard, the NHL will be taking us back to the schoolyards of yore, with two sets of team captains taking turns selecting their teammates. 

It’s NHL meets reality TV, and my inner Project Runway watching, Biggest Loser loving, Shaq Vs. indulging reality TV fan is beside herself with delight. But that shameful side of me isn’t the only reason I’m excited to see this drama play out on national television. I’ve heard from a number of non-hockey fan friends that this has their interest piqued. That’s right, early intel is indicating that people will actually be watching this game.

I’m prepared to go one step further, and give credit for this sassy little idea to our own Alex Ovechkin. To be sure, he didn’t come up with it himself, and the idea isn’t totally novel. Just last year, this format was used by Women’s Professional Soccer, with stars Abby Wambach and Marta each selecting their own players. 

So why credit Ovechkin with the most attention-grabbing All-Star idea since… well, since what? The All-Star game has been there and back again over the decades, starting with Stanley Cup-winning teams taking on All-Stars from the other teams, and evolving to various permutations of the modern inter-conference format, then to North American players taking on players from the rest of the world, then back to East vs. West. In recent years, the All-Star game has taken a hit, because the new collective bargaining agreement stipulates that the game won’t take place in Olympic years, so what was in theory an annual tradition is no longer.

But the most important evolution of the All-Star game? The introduction of the SuperSkills Competition in 1990. And the most important moment in recent SuperSkills Competition history? In my D.C.-centric view, it has to be Alex Ovechkin’s back-to-back victories in the fan favorite Breakaway Challenge. Ovie brought some spunk, and then maybe a little camp, to this challenge, and I’d like to think that set the wheels turning on ways to inject some excitement into the All-Star game itself, which even I will admit to skipping on occasion.

East vs. West doesn’t have a rivalry feel to it, so the game has developed into more of an expo than a competition. This change will allow the All-Star game to retain that feel, while adding a more competitive twist. Exposition meets competition is Ovie’s specialty, and I, for one, am thrilled to have more to look forward to in this year’s All-Star weekend than just Ovie’s three-peat in the Breakaway Challenge.

By Nicole Weissman  | November 11, 2010; 2:50 PM ET
Categories:  Capitals, Nicole Weissman  | Tags:  Capitals, Nicole Weissman  
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All that is needed to make this perfect is to have Ovie and Crosby as opposing captains! THe NHL has to know this, right?

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | November 12, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

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