It was a first for the NHL - and any major sports league, for that matter. The All-Star Fantasy Draft saw team captains Eric Staal and Nick Lidstrom pick their own rosters of elite hockey talent from a deep pool provided by voting fans and the league. And in the end, Team Lidstrom edged Team Staal 11-10 in Sunday's big tilt in Carolina.
But the focus seemed to be more on the new approach designed to inject some freshness into the showcase.
The playground-style rules were a break from tradition for a game that had typically seen conference vs. conference and North America vs. the World. Unlike those years that had set rosters, the lineups this time around weren't known until two days before opening faceoff, which seemed to lend an air of spontaneity to the proceedings.
Heading into the draft, there was inevitable drama and suspense of who would be picked first and last overall. Staal played the teammate card, opting for goaltender Cam Ward with the top pick, while Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin were also popular selections. The Sedin brothers were split up, while Phil Kessel went last with a new car and a $20,000 donation to charity.
After all the hype and build-up - the draft, the skills competition and the high-scoring game, here was Dave's question to you: "How would you rate the 'new-look' NHL All-Star weekend?"
Here are the answers that Dave liked best:
"The draft had a bit of excitement, but it was dashed when the players gave us a lackluster game with no excitement."
Chris - St. Catharines
"For about 25 minutes, I thought the CBC had it right—curling instead of the All-Star game."
Eric - Paradise, Newfoundland
"I love the new format, and I'm sure TSN does, too, with more than a million people watching the draft."
Ryan - Edmonton
"The older I get, the less I look forward to the All-Star game. But kids loved this, and that's good for the game."
Tony - Edmonton
"They should use the NHL's own lottery draft machine to pick the players, or better yet, get Maggie the Monkey out of retirement to spin the wheel."
Paul - Ingersoll
And Dave's Reply To All:
Well, with apologies to those who were wrapped up in the draft, were able to follow the skills competition and then watched the all-star game with interest, I wasn't, couldn't and didn't. But if the aim of the exercise in Raleigh was to bring more attention to the all-star weekend than would have been the case otherwise, I'll be the first to admit it was a huge success. And that might mean there's no audience for yet another idea that would make the all-star game better.
But here's mine. The only hockey more popular than the hockey played in the NHL is international hockey. And the all-star game I would watch, and I'll bet others would watch in record numbers, is an all-star game that would put on the ice four teams representing Canada, the United States, Russia or Sweden and the rest of the world.
Two teams on the ice for the first period, the other two for the second period and the two winning teams for the third period. Fan voting, televised roster announcements, a true fantasy draft conducted by NHL legends, and perhaps a third period that would feature Canada vs. The United States.
If you prefer Team Staal vs. Team Lidstrom, I'll be surprised, and I'll go away quietly.