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.
NEW NHL ALL-STAR GAME FORMAT
* Fans will continue to play the lead role in the selection of All-Stars when 2011 NHL All-Star Fan Balloting presented by XM launches on Monday, Nov. 15. The All-Star Balloting process, which is entirely digital for the fourth consecutive game, runs through Jan. 3.
* From a group of 100 players on the ballot, fans will vote for their top six All-Stars by position without regard to the Conference in which the player plays. Fans will also have the ability to write-in a player of their choice.
* The three forwards, two defensemen and one goalie receiving the most votes will be named NHL All-Stars.
* As with previous All-Star games, the remaining 36 All-Stars will be named by the NHL Hockey Operations Dept. for a total of 42 All-Star players (3 goalies, 6 defensemen and 12 forwards per team).
* Following the selection of All-Stars, NHL Hockey Operations will designate 12 NHL rookies to participate in the Honda NHL SuperSkills® on Saturday, January 29 for a total of 54 NHL players taking part in All-Star weekend.
* After the 42 NHL All-Stars have been selected, two captains will be chosen per team by the players.
* On Friday, January 28, 2011, a fantasy draft event will be held in Raleigh with all 54 NHL players (42 All-Stars and 12 rookies) during which the captains will draft the remaining members of their respective teams.
* First selection in the draft will be determined by coin flip and selections will continue on an alternating basis.
* Each team will be required to select three goalies, six defensemen and 12 forwards in any order they choose.
* After the selection of the All-Star game rosters, the captains will select among the 12 rookies to fill out the rosters for the Honda NHL SuperSkills.
* Each team will feature six rookies participating in various skills competitions.
* Teams will participate in six different skills, including NHL Fastest Skater, NHL Breakaway Challenge, Accuracy Shooting, Skills Challenge Relay, NHL Hardest shot and the NHL Elimination Shoot Out.
"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.