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NHL All-Star Game requires reform

Tarek Ahmad
Auston Matthews, who plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs, warms up before a regular season game versus the Tampa Bay Lighting. Matthews demonstrated his goal-scoring skills at the All-Star Game and won the All-Star Most Valuable Player award.

The NHL All-Star Games have long been celebrated as a showcase of the league’s finest talents, pitting the best against the best in a display of skill and athleticism. These games occur annually in either January or February and currently feature all players from every NHL team, regardless of their skill level.

The All-Star Game’s purpose is to feature the greatest hockey players, however, if a player from every team competes in these games, then athletes who are less skilled will fill up spots that other players are more deserving of, undermining the level of greatness these games supposedly offer. Therefore, NHL All-Star Games should only include superstar players.
The NHL All-Star Game incorporates both a skills competition and a tournament between All-Star teams. The reintroduction of the All-Star Game draft, where four captains are selected and handpick their teams from a pool of other All-Star players, adds excitement as new teams are able to be created each season rather than sticking with set teams.

Despite this, the All-Star tournament is still not entertaining to watch because of the less skilled players. This makes the game feel very slow-paced and reduces the competition. The only players who seem to be putting in effort are the players who play for the host city of that year’s All-Star Game and, more often than not, they are also the winners.

For example, this year the games were held in Toronto, and Auston Matthews, a center for the Toronto Maple Leafs, won the MVP award. This reflects how the game has not been as competitive as it should be.

In 2023, the All-Star Game was held in Florida. The star of the Florida Panthers, Matthew Tkachuk and his brother, Brady Tkachuk, carried the show, scoring highlight reel goals together.

To fix the current lack of competition, the NHL should simply let the best play against the best. This will create a competition that can only be won by the more skilled players.

Moreover, many talented players who received votes to participate in the All-Star game did not get a chance to because of the requirement for every team to have an All-Star representative. Mikko Rantanen, Brayden Point and Matthew Tkachuk are among the list of talented players not allowed to play. Instead of being granted the opportunity to showcase their skills in front of a large fanbase, they had to take a few days off.

On the other hand, Bonne Jenner, Frank Vatrano and Oliver Bjorkstrand made the journey to Toronto to represent their teams. They are ranked as the current 29th place Columbus Blue Jackets, 27th place Arizona Coyotes and 23rd place Seattle Kraken. This discrepancy diminishes the overall quality of the NHL All-Star Game and undermines its purpose: to display the talents of NHL players.

Furthermore, the NHL All-Star Game should not include players from every team because only 12 players get to compete in the skills competition. After the 2024 NHL All-Star Game, the skills competition received high praise for putting on an entertaining show. This reflects how the most talented and skilled players make the event great.

The skills competition featured a disappointing performance from Nikita Kucherov. Kucherov displayed a consistent lack of effort, emphasizing his spite for the Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans after his team lost in the first round.

Besides Kucherov, all the other players showed off their impressive talents. Connor McDavid led the show, ultimately winning the competition, but the top goal scorers for Toronto, Auston Matthews and William Nylander, got the home crowd on their feet with their impressive performances.

Overall, the NHL All-Star Games should revert back to their original purpose: a skills-based competition for all leagues that was created to demonstrate the talent of top players. By returning to a more exclusive format, the competition can be a celebration of excellence in hockey and, as a result, a more enjoyable event for fans to watch.

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About the Contributor
Tarek Ahmad, Reporter
Tarek Ahmad ('27) is a Reporter for The Standard in Journalistic Writing.

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