Should EIHL have an All Star Game?
The weekend saw the annual NHL All Star game. An event that has not really caught my imagination in recent years. Even the promise of McDavid, Laine, Crosby, Ovechkin and co playing the game 3v3 with all the space made didn’t do too much to light up my excitement. Over the weekend though Blueliner Hockey ran a twitter poll and it does appear there is an appetite for an All Star game in the UK with EIHL players.
There have been All Star games in the UK before though not consistently with the visit of the Boston Bruins in October 2010 the last time an all star team was put together. Prior to that there were more traditional All Star games between 2 mixed teams.
The idea never really took off though in part due to games being played midweek and like its NHL cousin using a bit of a stale format. However if the will is there with the fans and the effort is put in then it could be a good event.
That means fan involvement in selecting the players for the teams probably in the old fashioned way of internet poll. But what the league needs to think is how teams are made up. Is that on conference grounds or a more ambitious north of England, South of England, Wales-Ireland combined and Scotland 4 team format?
Then there is the game itself. Should it be 3v3 or the traditional game? 3v3 is nice but you need to have the highly skilled fast players and not the grinding tough guys that are often some of most popular in the EIHL.
You also need to consider timing. A cold dark Wednesday in January is not ideal. It is hard for fans to travel and comes straight after Christmas. It also needs to be far enough away from the Challenge Cup Final and the Playoff Weekend to keep the news fresh and to spread costs out for the fans. On the other hand it needs be far enough into the season to let fans pick out their favourite players.
It will be a hard task to get it right but could proof to be a great event. The secret could be that if the fans want it then the EIHL should let them lead it. Engage with the fans to dictate the make up of the event and the off shoot would a positive event and positive engagement with the fans who can sometimes feel rather distant from the league.