ECHL Reveal 2019 All-Star Classic Format and It’s….Something

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A day after they held their 2018 All-Star Classic, the ECHL went ahead and revamped their All-Star Classic for 2019, showing that they’re wasting not time whatsoever to get the hype train going for Toledo next year, despite other markets not being keen on hosting an All-Star Classic due to the painstaking hours off-ice that need to be done in order to put one of those things on.

In any case, the ECHL has revealed that the All-Star Classic will continue to be 3-on-3, but instead of having all four divisions represented– the Eastern and Western conference will have a team of All-Stars, while the Toledo Walleye will have two teams in the All-Star Classic competing against each other. It’s basically the dream that a lot of Canadian hockey fans have when it comes to having two Canadian National teams in the Olympics or World Juniors.

Firstly, to announce this more than 365 days before the event happens seems a little….odd?? You’re just coming off an All-Star Classic and you’re already forgetting about that event and just pushing forward with the plans for next year?? You’d think that they’d want to announce it during the off-season when there is no news and actually have people talk a little bit about this during the dog days of the off-season.

Secondly, what sense does it make to make to kill more roster spots for All-Stars by taking away two whole division spots?? Is it because of the call-ups?? Is it because some guys didn’t want to go?? It just seems silly for a situation like this to happen when you’re trying to display the entire league’s stars– but you end up showing off one team and a select amount of stars on the world stage. It was one thing when the ECHL had the host team play against the full amount of All-Stars, but this seems very odd to split one of those teams up and then have them play against each other.

More over, you just had a game where because of call-ups and some oversight, a lot of the top scorers in the league weren’t in attendance. Call-ups are the nature of the business, but from the on-set– when seven of the top-10 scorers are missing from the game; that’s problematic for an All-Star Classic.

Yes, I’m a curmudgeon when it comes to this because it’s not geared towards me, it’s geared toward the appeal of the community. That said, I would want this to be more entertaining than it is. The ideal of the All-Star Game is really a passe thing because we have an overabundance of access to leagues and games and everything these days– it’s not that big a necessity to have All-Star Games in any sport. I’ve always heldfast in the belief that you do a Comic-Con type of event with players available for signings and a lot more interactive festivities for the fans rather than just a game.

However, I’m just one voice in a crowd of differing opinion. And the opinion seems to be the same old song keeps works, so play on.

ECHL Playing Games During All-Star Game is Absurd

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While there are people getting all hyped about the ECHL All-Star Game that is going to happen in Indianapolis January 15th; there’s an interesting turn that Justin Cohn of the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette brought up in the midst of talking about guys who may have gotten snubbed for this honor of going to the game.

And lo and behold, Atlanta hosts Florida, Tulsa is in Allen, and Rapid City heads to Utah for three games. Florida will be without goalie Martin Ouellette, Atlanta without high-scoring forward Phil Lane, Allen’s top offensive-defenseman David Makowski, Tulsa’s Conner Bleackley, Rapid City’s top offensive threat Dante Salituro, and Utah’s rookie defensmen Cliff Watson will all be out of the line-up as they take part in the 3-on-3 tournament that the ECHL is putting on.

What professional league does something so silly to have one of their marquee events, which is put on the NHL Network, while regular season DIVISIONAL GAMES are taking place??

Sure, Rapid City is way out of the playoffs and Florida is having a helluva season, but everyone else is in the thick of the playoff race. As Cohn mentioned, what if you’re playing a rival where one of your top guys is out for an exhibition game like this and you lose two big points because of something like this??

To play the Devil’s advocate, though– this could happen if the top guy was called up to the AHL on a PTO or whatever, so it’s a situation that could happen and teams have to have adapt as they need to in order to succeed. Yet, it’s not an AHL or NHL team that moving the guys away from the line-up. The league itself, the play you pay your franchise fee to is pulling some of your best players out of the line-up of a regular season game for an exhibition.

AND THAT’S NOT ALL– by my count– seven of the top-10 in league scoring are not going to be appearing at the game. Why would you have that many top scorers out of that line-up?? Sure, you want to have every team represented and there’s a lot of guys on the same team that are in the top scoring list (Cincinnati, Greenville, Fort Wayne), but to have your best players not playing is a disservice to your league, to your fans, and to the NHL Network– who would want the best of the best to show off the ECHL.

There’s better ways to show off the league– like a Game of the Week that’s not on Facebook or on the so-so ECHL.TV broadcasts they have now. The league should lobby the NHL Network to put on a highly produced game twice a month or so. But to have the league still going on while the rest of the league is trying to sell a premier event is the biggest head-scratcher of them all.