On Tuesday, the NHL announced the rosters for the 2017 NHL All-Star game. The contest (and skills competition before it) will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on January 29th, and the rosters certainly have lots of star power fit for Hollywood.
As fans will well be aware, the NHL All-Star game has gone through numerous changes in recent years in an attempt to produce the most entertaining product. Hockey is a brutal sport; when the game results don’t matter, players don’t try as hard. Therefore, as instituted last season, the All-Star game has been changed to a three-on-three competition. This hopefully opens up the ice and makes the action more exciting for viewers and players alike.
Gone are Eastern Conference versus Western Conference, or North America vs. The World as well. The game is now each division for itself in a four-team tournament.
Also changed for this year is the voting process. Fans stuck one past the league last year when they nominated journeyman John Scott for the game. So that doesn’t happen again, the NHL put rules in place on when All-Stars have to be on rosters and if they could have been sent down to the AHL, etc. Perhaps even more importantly, fans are only responsible for picking four players now, rather than entire rosters. They pick the captains; the league fills in the rest. While everyone had fun with Scott’s inclusion in 2016, the league took it as an embarrassment.
As one would expect, because of these changes, the All-Star rosters are filled with nothing but the biggest of names. The four divisional captains (as chosen by the fans) were Sidney Crosby, Carey Price, Connor McDavid, and P.K. Subban. The top two picks from 2016’s NHL Draft will also be in attendance. Both Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine received well-deserved All-Star nominations.
Since we have three-on-three games to play, only 11 players were voted in from each division. The rosters are smaller than fans are used to, meaning some deserving players were left out, occasionally because of the league’s desire to get the biggest stars in.
Jonathan Toews doesn’t belong here. He has been hurt and under-performing. Even he was confused by the honor. However, as the Chicago Tribune points out, this is the NHL’s 100th anniversary celebration, and it will be unveiling a 100-Greatest-Players list during All-Star weekend. That could be an occasion to get as many stars in attendance as possible, especially when Toews himself might make the list.
One deserving omission from the game is Toews’ teammate Artemi Panarin. Columbus rookie defenseman Zach Werenski also had a case, as did goalie Cam Talbot. But, again, with such little space, there were bound to be numerous snubs. It looks as if San Jose’s Joe Pavelski may miss the game due to the Sharks Schedule, so maybe Panarin will get the call. Injuries will help to get more players on the rosters and alleviate that a bit. The game will be played on January 29th, with the skills competition taking place the night before.
Featured Image Credit: Connor Mah/Flickr. C.C. 2.0