What are you most, least excited about in 2016 NHL All-Star Game? (Roundtable)

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What are you most, least excited about in 2016 NHL All-Star Game? (Roundtable)
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The NHL All-Star Game is this weekend in Nashville, and it should be an interesting time. There’s a 3-on-3 mini-tournament instead of a traditional game. There’s a galaxy of country music stars mulling around. And in case you haven’t heard, John Scott is an All-Star Game captain. 

So we put it to the panel of Puck Daddy personalities: What are you most and least excited about in this year’s NHL All-Star Game?

Please put your answers in the comments.

GREG WYSHYNSKI, EDITOR, PUCK DADDY

Most Looking Forward To:

The divisional tournament. Maybe not so much the 3-on-3, which could be a methodically paced, pale imitation of the overtime gimmick – but hey, the more methodical the pace, the greater chance John Scott wins MVP – but getting back to a point of pride being on the line for these players.

I want to believe the Pacific wants to kick the collective ass of the Central, and I want to believe the two teams that emerge from the “first round” are going to play hard for that prize money in the final. This could work. And anything’s better than that atrocity of a hockey game from last year.

But I still don’t get why there aren’t divisional teams in the skills competition. Or four different jerseys. Sigh.

Least Looking Forward To:

Whatever the hell that Friday night infomercial for the CMT Awards is supposed to be.

I know we can’t have the fantasy draft anymore. The players didn’t like having to show a modicum of personality, and professional athletes who literally bleed on the ice in an effort to defeat their opponents didn’t like someone picked “last.”

But in the, oh, ten thousand or so choices on what programming to air on Friday night to replace it, “Big and Rich concert featuring Roman Josi at a guitar factory” was definitely Idea No. 10,001.

NHL Karaoke. NHL bowling. NHL E-Sports. Hell, NHL poker, which would have been ironic considering how ESPN treated us in the last television deal. Literally anything that isn’t the guy from Staind singing country rock with cutaways to Matt Duchene bobbing his head and doing the white man’s overbite.

SEAN LEAHY, EDITOR, PUCK DADDY

Most Looking Forward To:

I'm eagerly awaiting everyone who poo-poo'd the John Scott stuff to see him become the Prince of Music City. From Media Day to the Skills Competition to watching him in the 3-on-3 tournament, the naysayers are either going to reverse course on their silly criticism or double down on how the All-Star Game is something that should be revered and not, you know, something to have fun with.

Least Looking Forward To:

I'm hoping the 3-on-3 tournament breathes some life into the event and the players take it a bit more seriously than they did in Columbus. The game isn't supposed to mean anything and let's hope they never take it the route that Major League Baseball did with their All-Star Game. But with a different format and $1 million on the line for the winning team, hopefully the players give somewhat of a [poop] about it and at least give 80% rather than 20%.

JEN NEALE, EDITOR, PUCK DADDY

Most Looking Forward To:

I'm one of like five people that actually enjoys the skills competition. I took some weird pride, and admittedly, still kind of do, when a player from my favorite team wins an event. 

I love the 'creativity' of the players when it comes to breakaway and how they pander to the crowd. I love the reactions by the players when the hardest shot speed registers in the 100-plus mph mark. I love watching the players bring their kids on the bench to hang out with the other NHL stars. I love those unscripted moments between the players where they're laughing at each other and making comments. It's the closest people will ever get to seeing the players with their guard down and acting like somewhat normal humans. 

Least Looking Forward To:

First and foremost, the All-Star Game is a joke. It is one step above the Pro Bowl. Therefore, my greatest concern isn't really a concern. It's more of feeling of impending doom.

The problem is our journalist friends who have taken issue with the John Scott situation and will be onsite covering the game. For years they have regarded the All-Star Game as the joke it is, but have now turned it into a venerable institution that has been disgraced. Please. Spare me. This is a contest between athletes to see who can play well enough despite still being drunk from the night before.

I won't fault participants for not going all out in the 3-on-3, hungover or not. There are a ton of games ahead of them before the playoffs, and I understand if they don't want to risk getting hurt in an exhibition game. Yet if Scott doesn't hold up to the standards of those who believe he shouldn't be there, then the whole event is ruined in their eyes and their coverage will reflect that. I fully expect more than one outlet to report on the fact that something Scott does will "cost his team a share of the million dollar prize." You know, a share that most players at the event outside of Scott make in one or two games.

I do have one other concern: Wysh goes missing after a mysterious, impromptu meeting with NHL executives. 

JOSH COOPER, EDITOR, PUCK DADDY

Most Looking Forward To:

Fastest skater.

The last several years, fastest skater had become less about speed and more about substance. That changes this season with the NHL going back to an all-out speed competition, the type of event that made Sergei Fedorov and Mike Gartner All-Star legends. Can today’s players beat Gartner’s record of 13.386 seconds?  You always hear hockey people saying today’s players are faster and stronger than their counterparts from years ago. This is a great way to find out.  

Least Looking Forward To:

Making the event too much of a Nashville caricature.

I spent nine years of my life in Nashville and it’s truly one of the coolest, most unique cities in North America. Most people know Nashville for the honky tonks, country music and little else. A lot of honky tonks – if not all of them can be found on the Broadway strip in downtown and no doubt many will be talked about and referenced throughout the weekend. But the city is so much more.

From Midtown to Germantown to the Gulch and East Nashville, the city offers something for everyone. When you go to Nashville, don’t just go for the drinking and the music. Go for the entire experience and you’ll have an even greater appreciation for the city when you leave. You can only hope that most hockey people will take this view, instead of just doing to downtown thing.

RYAN LAMBERT, COLUMNIST, PUCK DADDY

Most Looking Forward To:

The Skills Competition.

While the idea of a 3-on-3 tournament has the potential to be quite fun, especially because guys will be playing hard, nothing is as enjoyable as seeing NHL players actually express some personality. The hope here is that Johnny Gaudreau not only lights his stick on fire for the shootout move competition, but is also thrown by John Scott like a flaming javelin into Pekka Rinne.

And also, obviously, it would be cool if everyone there had a nice buzz on.

Least Looking Forward To:

Whatever that Friday night thing is.

Sure, John Scott makes a mockery of the All-Star process, but so too does whatever this variety show they're planning for Friday night make a mockery of the idea of what technically constitutes televisable entertainment. The idea of celebrating Nashville culture is a cool one, but the execution already seems to be all wrong (have you heard of half the performers?).

And good lord, if this is the plan going forward, to celebrate the hockey history and culture of the host city, it's a good thing LA is likely the front-runner next year, because just imagine trying to celebrate the culture of, like, Edmonton. Could the hockey world handle a k.d. lang performance?

SAM MCCAIG, HOCKEY EDITOR, YAHOO SPORTS

Most Looking Forward To:

John Scott playing 3-on-3 against the greatest players in the game, of course.

Look, we all know John Scott isn’t an NHL all-star in any real sense. He’s the worst hockey player in the NHL, but he’s a giant who’s good at fighting and that’s been enough to keep him around the big leagues for the better part of the past eight seasons. In a way, perhaps it’s fitting that he gets to go out as an “all-star” – he’s the best at what he does and he’s the last of the old-time enforcers. Plus, he seems to be a decent fellow who has handled the all-star vote and subsequent hullabaloo with dignity and humor, and that should count for something.

As for non-John Scott NHL All-Star Game anticipations, I’m looking forward to the celebrity coaches’ defensive schemes in response to the 3-on-3 free-for-all, the skills competition (which is the real all-star show as we all know) … and finally, I’m holding out hope that Kenny Rogers shows up and sings “The Gambler.” Because that’s my favorite country song.

Least Looking Forward To:

John Scott playing 3-on-3 against the greatest players in the game, of course.

Otherwise, I guess my biggest concern is how the all-in 3-on-3 format will translate on television. So far this season it has been fast, fun and exciting when you’re in the stands, and almost as compelling when you’re watching it on TV. But it’s been the cherry on the sundae, and now we’re getting a whole sundae of nothing but cherries. That’s great if you like all-cherry sundaes, but there’s also the chance it could become sickening and that we might not be able to enjoy 3-on-3 cherry sundaes in quite the same way ever again. (I know, I know … I need to work on my metaphors.)

Enjoy the weekend, enjoy the skill show, enjoy John Scott playing 3-on-3 in the NHL All-Star Game.

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