The NHL has announced a new format for the 2011 NHL All-Star Game at the RBC Center. Think "Fantasy Draft."
The top three forwards, two defenseman and a goalie will be chosen in online fan voting, to begin Nov. 15 and run through Jan. 3. Another 36 players then will be chosen by NHL Hockey Operations along with the fan balloting to play in the Jan. 30 game.
Two captains will be designated by the players, and two alternate captains for each team also chosen. The captains then will choose the two teams from the complete pool of 42 players on Friday, Jan. 28, possibly at the Raleigh Civic & Convention Center.
No longer will it the game match teams from the Eastern Conference and Western Conference. Just two "fantasy" teams. No decision has been made on what to name the teams, but each NHL team will be continue to have at least one representative in th All-Star pool.
"It's going to be kind of neat and shakes things up a little bit," Canes goalie Cam Ward said today. "It breaks the old (East-West) tradition but it will be exciting the way they plan on doing it.
"A lot of us are fantasy football fans. It will be kind of similar to that, where you have a fantasy draft."
Canes coach Paul Maurice, with a smile, said the team selections could be interesting. Each team will have three goalies, six defensemen and 12 forwards.
"It will be fun to watch," he said. "A little pressure on the captains to disrespect an All-Star and picking him last. A little different from the playground where you can pick last and not have to deal with that."
That may not happen, however. Still under discussion is having multiple picks at the end of the draft so as to not have a "last man standing."
There no longer will be YoungStars game the day before the All-Star Game with rookies and sophomores. Twelve rookies will be chosen for the SuperSkills Competition, Jan. 29. Each team will have six rookies competing in such contests as the NHL Fastest Skater and NHL Hardest Shot events along with the All-Stars.
"I think it will be fun for players and the fans and create more of a buzz and more excitement," Canes general manager Jim Rutherford said today.
The new format was developed and approved by the NHL and the NHL Players Association.