Fantasy hockey will become reality at the 2011 All-Star Game presented by Discover.
A new format for this year's festivities will see the conference vs. conference approach 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, which will be hosted for the first time by the Carolina Hurricanes.
Captains for each side will select from a pool of players chosen by a combination of fan balloting and the NHL Hockey Operations Department. The change in format is a joint effort by the League and the NHL Players' Association.
"There is no doubt that the competitive juices will rise when the players themselves select the line-ups for their All-Star teams as well as deciding who will go head-to-head in the skills challenges," said Mike Ouellet, NHLPA Chief of Business Affairs. "The league and the NHLPA are looking forward to the excitement this new format will create for the fans, and the players, at the NHL All-Star Weekend in Carolina."
"The goal of the All-Star format change was designed to make the game more fun for everyone involved. By giving the players more input on team selection, as well as Skills Competition match-ups, we feel the 2011 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft will inject more excitement and intrigue into all the events surrounding All-Star weekend," said Brendan Shanahan, Vice President Hockey and Business Development for the NHL.
"Some of the players they (NHLPA) have talked to, potential all-stars, they seem energized by it. Rob Blake has been a big help on this idea, as have other players in the League that I reached out too."
Fans will pick six players (three forwards, two defensemen and one goalie) for the 2011 All-Star Game in balloting that begins Nov. 15 and runs through Jan. 3, regardless of conference they play in. The remaining 36 All-Stars will be named by NHL Hockey Operations. The players from that group of 42 will vote for team captains.
And that's when the fun starts, as the captains then select from the full pool of players. Each team will be required to choose three goalies, six defensemen and 12 forwards in any order they choose.
"It's an entertaining, fun game and fans like to be entertained by the players, showing their competitive spirit with a big smile on their face," said Shanahan. "It's a matter of us trying to find ways to capture that. The game, it's still going to be three 20-minute periods with two teams and everyone is wearing equipment and using the puck. In some ways it's going to look very much like it was. We know what it is. It's a fun event."
More information on the 2011 All-Star Fantasy Draft, including team names, will be announced at a later date.
Following the full draft, the teams will pick from a group of 12 rookies selected by NHL Hockey Operations to fill out the rosters for the Honda SuperSkills competition, to be held Jan. 29. Each team will feature six rookies participating in various skills competitions, including NHL Fastest Skater, NHL Breakaway Challenge, Accuracy Shooting, Skills Challenge Relay, NHL Hardest shot and the NHL Elimination Shoot Out.
Author: Adam Kimelman | NHL.com