Vegas Golden Knights: Some thoughts on the 2020 NHL All-Star Game

We are rapidly approaching the All-Star break and the Vegas Golden Knights will be well represented at the 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis.

Vegas Golden Knights Head Coach Gerard Gallant will be behind the bench for the Pacific Division, while Max Pacioretty will be appearing in his first All-Star Game.

Marc-Andre Fleury was due to also represent the Golden Knights in The Gateway to the West, but pulled out in order to recharge the batteries ahead of what will be a crucial stretch period.

And we now know the full makeup of the rosters for the 2020 All-Star Game following the announcement of the winners of the “Last Men-In” ballot, which saw one player from each division voted in by the fans.

Vancouver Canucks rookie sensation Quinn Hughes will join the Pacific Division, former Golden Knights forward David Perron will be representing the Blues in St. Louis, Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie will be repping the Metro Division and Mitch Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs will be playing for the Atlantic Division.

With Pacioretty replacing Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg on the Pacific Division roster, and Tomas Hertl taking the place of injured San Jose Sharks teammate Logan Couture, the rosters are complete and ready to go.

And, on that note, I wanted to offer some thoughts on the format of the All-Star Game, including the much maligned jerseys which I will come on to later.

But, let’s start with the air of negativity that is currently swirling around the upcoming festivities in St. Louis.

Firstly, there is a plethora of talk around how important the event actually is compared to the rest of the regular season, an argument between league and teams that was highlighted when Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin decided to sit out for the second consecutive year.

Of course, the Golden Knights and Marc-Andre Fleury also decided to bypass the festivities in order for the goalie to get a longer break, which is understandable.

After all, both Ovechkin and Fleury are in the twilight of their careers and with both their teams expected to be serious contenders, you can’t blame them for wanting to take advantage of a break in the gruelling regular season schedule.

The only punishment for not attending the All-Star Game if chosen is a one-game suspension, which pales in comparison to the reward of a nine-day holiday and the chance to rest some weary bodies.

Sure, for some players it will be an absolute honor and no-brainer to attend an All-Star Game but, for the likes of Ovechkin and Fleury who have been All-Stars on numerous occasions, it makes sense to skip it in order for rest and some downtime.

The factor I personally think takes away from the All-Star Game, however, is the way the rosters are decided.

Granted, I understand the attraction to have at least one player from all 31 teams in attendance, but that has become null and void due to players being allowed to drop out.

For example, the Anaheim Ducks won’t have a representative in St. Louis this year due to Jakob Silfverberg dropping out in order to be present for the birth of his child, which is completely understandable by the way, with Max Pacioretty his replacement.

NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 07: Cale Makar #8 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on January 07, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

You can’t force players to attend if they don’t want to, so it makes sense going forward to come up with a system that just allows the best of the best to attend.

This may not prove popular but, after all, it is called the All-Star Game and the best talents in the league right now should be present.

Look at some of the biggest exclusions from this year’s event. Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand won’t be in St. Louis despite tallying 62 points (20 goals, 42 assists) in 46 games, nor will rookie sensation Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche who already has one hand on the Calder Trophy with 33 points (nine goals, 24 assists).

Another fine example is Mika Zibanejad who has been on absolute tear for the New York Rangers, recording 17 goals and 18 assists for 35 points, despite missing 13 games with an upper-body injury earlier in the year.

Then there is our very own Max Pacioretty who wasn’t even a lock for the All-Star Game, despite being on pace for a career year with 45 points (20 goals, 25 assists) through 48 games.

Now, there is no exact science to this but maybe you group the players in different pools based on their points and overall performance, then dip down into the other pools if someone pulls out.

It is vague I know but I do find the fact that some of the best performers in the NHL this year won’t be in attendance in St. Louis somehow defeats the whole object of the All-Star Game.

Whether it is fixed anytime soon is anyone’s guess, but I do think the overall format of the event needs tinkering in order to generate more interest among fans.

Jerseys – Home run or an absolute stinker?

Maybe getting more attention than top stars deciding to take a holiday rather than head out to St. Louis are the official 2020 NHL All-Star Game jerseys.

Revealed across social media last week, the reaction was mixed to say the least.

Okay, maybe we are being kind because there wasn’t a lot of love for the jerseys that will be worn throughout the weekend in St. Louis on Jan. 24-25.

With the Pacific and Central Divisions sporting dark jerseys with colored team logos, and the Metro and Atlantic Divisions wearing white jerseys with colored logos, they are certainly better than last year’s editions.

And I actually quite like them. They aren’t the most imaginative jerseys out there but they are simple and effective.

The only negative thing for me is the fact that the Vegas Golden Knights logo isn’t the gold one, which I think would have gone nice on the dark background.

If you look at the Metro Division jerseys, the color schemes work incredibly well, especially the orange Philadelphia Flyers logo on the white jersey.

Granted, I do wish the NHL would bring back the classic All-Star jerseys with the stars, and hopefully they will make a comeback soon.

Next: Pacioretty's an All-Star!

But, for now, I haven’t got too much of a problem with the jerseys that will be on show at the 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis.