After employing an international format for five years, the NHL All-Star Game is returning to one that pits the Eastern and Western Conferences, commissioner Gary Bettman announced today.
Bettman made the announcement during a conference call as the league prepares for its 86th season.
"We're moving away from North America vs. the World," the commissioner said. "We think it worked well, particularly in the Olympic years, but we think in terms of fan identification with players in the game, it makes sense to go back to a more traditional format."
The old format will make its return on February 2, 2003 at Sunrise, Florida.
The league adopted the international format to spur interest in the 1998 Nagano Olympics, which featured NHL players for the first time. It was used through the 2002 contest in Los Angeles, which was played on the eve of the Salt Lake City Games.