Pouring through countless hockey magazines before the start of the games the general consensus was that the All-Star Games appeared to have lost its appeal. Fans were asked to vote for their favorite players to take part in the weekend’s activities and Florida Panthers fans gave a whopping zero votes.
But things changed a bit this year when the league decided to hold a Fantasy Draft two nights before the event.
As a hockey fan I can honestly say I was a little skeptical about idea of the Fantasy Draft and what not. The games were always meant to be the best of the West versus the best in the East, and I didn’t believe that the fantasy teams would entice too many new fans.
Well hats off to you, Gary Bettman. You might just have found the secret to the All Star Games success and you managed to sway my stance on this.
The games got underway Friday Night with the Fantasy draft that was filled with some anticipation, a little tension, and a lot of laughs. It was good to see the lighter side to hockey putting families such as the Staal Brothers and Sedine twins head to head. Team loyalty was defiantly tested and that was proved when forward Patrick Kane made his fellow Blackhawks teammate and Jonathon Toews sweat it out waiting round after round to be selected.
Most team and family allegiances remained in tact, and luckily for all Hurricane fans, Eric Staal kept the Canes together — even youngster Jeff Skinner. And hockey fans couldn’t have been happier to see the Sedin twins (Henrik and Daniel) finally get the chance to play against each other.
One of the most entertaining parts of the All Star weekend was the Honda Super Skills Challenge. There was nothing more refreshing then seeing the best talent in the NHL just relaxing on the ice ready to work for some bragging rights. Team Staal won the Super Skills over Team Lidstrom, 33-22.
But “home ice advantage” wasn’t enough to work in Team Staal’s favor in Sunday’s loss to Team Lidstrom. Anyone in favor of Team Lindstrom was more then nerveous when Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury managed to let four goals in within the first four minutes of the game. But team Lidstrom managed to play catchup by the end of the first, and cut the lead to two at the end of the first period.
Team Lidstrom managed to pull through for the 11-10 victory and at the same time, recorded the biggest comeback in All-Star Game history. Lidstrom set another All-Star Game record by finishing out the games with a plus-7 rating.
Team Lidstom might have walked away with bragging rights, but no one walked in the arena would walk away disappointed. There was energy throughout the game and excitement throughout the weekend. Maybe we will see the fantasy draft take place again in Ottawa for next year’s All Star Game?
Fans wanted excitement and the player’s definitely delivered this time round.