PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Excitement about the wrinkles to the 2011 NHL All-Star Game presented by Discover is starting to build despite the fact that the game, in Raleigh, N.C., is more than six weeks away.
Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's Vice President of Hockey and Business Operations loves the buzz he is hearing about the revamped All-Star Game, which will played Jan. 30 at the RBC Center. Shanahan was at the forefront of a group of NHL executives that tweaked the game significantly for 2011 and, on Tuesday, gets to share his vision with the League's governors at the final day of the two-day Board of Governors meetings here.
"Just an overview and update on All-Star," Shanahan said of his allotted time on Tuesday's agenda, which will also feature a presentation from NHL Senior Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell on the impact of Rule 48, which penalizes blind-shot hits to the head.
"I think everybody is excited," Shanahan told NHL.com. "We talked about (the changes) at (last month's) GM Meetings and everybody was into it and appreciates the interest that has already been developed."
Under the new format, which developed by both the NHL and the NHL Players' Association, the traditional conference vs. conference approach has been replaced by a player draft, conducted by the All-Star players themselves, to determine the rosters for each team. The 2011 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft will be Friday, Jan. 28, to kick off All-Star Weekend.
Captains for each side will select from a pool of 42 players chosen by a combination of fan balloting and the NHL Hockey Operations Department. The selected players will vote to determine the captains. Each captain will be required to choose three goalies, six defensemen and 12 forwards in any order they choose.
Shanahan can't wait to see how the drama plays out in the made-for-TV draft on Jan. 28. In fact, he is so excited about it that he has enlisted some co-workers to play out the process on more than one occasion, testing the new system for any flaws and getting a sense of how the selection process will play out in its debut.
"We've done four or five mock drafts just to see how it goes," Shanahan told NHL.com. "It's fun. What we did is we just took previous all-star rosters and just get together some guys in the office just to see how it goes and whether we need to institute any rules for the draft."
So, what did he learn from his role of All-Star captain? Mainly, that he is glad he won't be one come the last week of January because the picking of an all-star team out of the 46 best players in the world is not as easy as it looks.
"You have a plan and all of sudden, the guy you are picking against is stealing players that you intended to take and your plan goes out the window," Shanahan said.
It is a helpless feeling anybody that has ever taken part in a fantasy sports league can relate to almost instantly. And, it is that universal experience that should make the all-star selection process such high drama, according to Shanahan.
"You say, 'Here's my plan' and then you realize my plan's not going to work because this guy is taking all the goalies," he said, laughing ruefully.