The NHL held its annual All-Star Weekend this past Friday and Saturday in San Jose, and it was…fine, I guess?
Meanwhile, down in the SPHL and FHL, both leagues have gotten past the halfway point of their respective seasons, right about the time when an All-Star Game would happen, but not since the 2011-12 season in the FHL has their been an All-Star Game in either league.
Fans of both leagues have been clamoring for a showcase of the league’s top stars fairly loudly this season, and the SPHL hinted that something all star-like was coming…only to announce it was just a fan vote to determine who the all-stars are, but with no actual game. It was a little more than disappointing to say the least.
But there really should be an All-Star game, and our solution, rather than confine it to just the FHL or SPHL: We’ll kill two birds with one stone and have the two leagues play against each other, like the CHL and WCHL did in 2000 and 2001.
Those are the entire games for each year, if you want to spend nearly seven hours watching each from start to finish, you would have a special place in our hearts.
And really, with the way FHL and SPHL fans trash talk each league, maybe that carries over onto the ice and we get a game that is way more competitive than the NHL, AHL, or ECHL version, and see some players who actually try, because after all, you’re playing to prove which league is superior, even if it doesn’t really count for anything. Who knows, maybe we’d even see a fight!
So how would we go about building an All-Star Game pitting the FHL’s best against the SPHL’s best? Well, first we need to set some rules up.
First, rosters will be like game day rosters, 17 players on each team, 15 skaters and two goalies. We went with 17 because, no offense to the SPHL or FHL, but if the game is confined to just within your own league, there probably aren’t 34+ players deserving of an All-Star nod in the 10-team SPHL, and there DEFINITELY aren’t 34 players who you could consider All-Stars in the six-team FHL. So 17 players for each team.
And as for roster composition, we’ll take a page from the NAHL’s Top Prospects Showcase, and the number of players each team gets depends on where they are in the standings, let’s say three weeks before the actual game.
So our FHL roster breakdown would be as follows:
1st Place – 4 spots
2nd Place – 3 spots
3rd Place – 3 spots
4th Place – 3 spots
5th Place – 2 spots
6th Place – 2 spots
And of course, the head coach of the team would go to the coach of the team in first, and the assistant coach would go to the team in second, but a fairly simple roster breakdown, and one that also ensures that every team in the FHL gets representation.
Now, the SPHL roster breakdown is a little trickier, because having 10 teams and only 17 spots means that your favorite team is going to have fewer players at the game than the FHL teams, but we still want a way to get every team at least one player, while rewarding the better teams.
1st Place – 3 Spots
2nd Place – 2 Spots
3rd Place – 2 Spots
4th Place – 2 Spots
5th Place – 2 Spots
6th Place – 2 Spots
7th Place – 1 Spot
8th Place – 1 Spot
9th Place – 1 Spot
10th Place – 1 Spot
And again, same coaching rules as we did for the FHL.
And if you wanted to keep the fan vote thing going like they have this year, that’s fine, let last-place Evansville or Mentor send its most popular player(s) to the game to fill its one or two spots. But if you continue the fan vote, that would only determine one spot from each team, so in the FHL, six players are fan picks and the last 11 are coach/league selections, while in the SPHL, 10 are fan picks, and seven are coach/league picks.
Next we need a venue, and for this we’ll start it in the SPHL and in Huntsville, because they would likely pack the place for the event, make it a great atmosphere, and really just go all-out to celebrate the game and players. If the game continues into the future, it would alternate every year between a FHL and SPHL host, but for FHL arenas, you need at least 2,000 seats to host. So, no offense Mentor, but that’s not an all star-caliber facility, and Watertown would have to state its case for hosting, or find some way to expand a bit.
Now, onto the actual day of the game. Let’s make it an all-out event that runs all day, and not a weekend long thing like the NHL does where they charge separate admission to everything. Maybe from noon to 2pm, the players are available for autographs, or pictures, of they’re at little booths where fans can shoot at a net and offer up pointers, something to make the players accessible and a chance for fans to meet them.
Then at 5pm, the skills showcase and game start. From 5 to 6:30pm it’s the skills showcase, and we’ll keep it to the usual events, fastest skater, hardest shot, accuracy shooting, stickhandling, and then a breakaway contest to end it. Heck, we can even make this league vs. league if we want, so there’s a little added juice to the competition.
Then game, we’ll play it under traditional rules, but we may try small tweaks so we can see what potential future rule changes look like under “game” conditions. Maybe one year we have slightly bigger nets, or two periods with the long change, just small things to test out, and so fans can see how they work and gauge their reaction to them. Oh, and because it’s an All-Star Game, and there’s always the chance that the game turns into a boring dud with nothing but breakaway, we’re playing 15 minute periods, to save the players some time, and to shorten things up if the game is lousy.
And finally the thing that ties all this together to try to get the players to give us a great game where they at least try a little: Cash.
We’ll award each player on the winning team $500 cash, a pretty good amount for a night’s work in an exhibition game. Get some hockey gear company to sponsor it, or whatever local business to cover the $8,500 to the winning team. If that mean’s we have to call it the Wendy’s FHL-SPHL All-Star Game, well, there’s worse things in life.
And there you go. That’s how we would do an All-Star game between the FHL and SPHL, which should happen to prove once and for all which is the better league. And if your league loses, well, they have the built-in excuse of it being an exhibition game and that they really weren’t trying.