The NHL is missing the mark entirely on the NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft. In just a couple of minutes of contemplative thought, I've already come up with several ways to improve the experience for the fans and the players, something that is rare in the world of hockey.
Next up are some obvious issues with the format. I like how captains are chosen behind closed doors and then they get some assistants. That's OK. But instead of somewhat randomly assigning an assistant, why not treat it like the first overall pick in peewee and just let the team captain take his best bud or teammate to the podium at the start? When I coached Little League the team's head coach automatically got his son on his roster because it was a gimme pick. Same concept here. Then we wouldn't have the "take my boy"
- First of all, the name. What's 'fantasy' about it? The players exist in the real world, the game actually occurs, and the results are tangible. It's not a grandiose statistical simulation like fantasy hockey or fantasy football. Just call it what it is: The All-Star Draft. The only way you should be allowed to call it a fantasy draft is if after the whole thing is over, the teams should huddle and come up with a hilarious name for their team: The Soft Euros, Team ESL, All Killer-No Filler, The Cap Busters, Milbury's Mistakes, Next Year's Philly Goaltenders, etc.
trend tradition with the Cam Ward and Erik Karlsson picks. We all know you want to play with your friends. We did too. In Middle School. Just make it semi-official and get it out of the way.
Encourage the players to have fun. Let the spirits and libations flow (for those of age, of course). Not fall down drunk, but let's lower some inhibitions and relax some of these guys that have to give interviews for this thing. Let's see some friendly betting. This year they had the option of a trade but nobody took advantage of it. Why didn't Zdeno Chara immediately take Jason Spezza and then force Daniel Alfredsson to deal Claude Giroux to Chara's team to prove his loyalty? Why didn't Chara jump on the other Sedin and look to deal the last pick for Daniel Sedin? Why didn't Alfie snag Tyler Seguin and leverage him for Pavel Datsyk? Why didn't any of them THINK OF THIS??? It would have been fun for everybody.
The broadcast needs to be improved TREMENDOUSLY. The Twitter updates were a horrible idea. Maybe it's not the concept but the dead fish they put in charge of it last night was literally seconds from either slitting her wrists in boredom or quitting altogether to get a career upgrade at Hooters.
If you want people to actually watch the draft, you can't have a theater/theatre full of obnoxious frat-boys yelling at the stage or booing EVERY PICK. It sucked the fun out of it for the players and made it unwatchable on TV. At least don't mic them up or hold it in a venue that makes such behavior an issue. One Sedin joke from the audience aside, it ruined the TV side of this draft.
If you only have an hour allotted for the draft, don't waste the first 20 minutes with fluff interviews, bad jokes, and zero content. This only results in rushing the second half of the draft, basically giving short shrift to some players in you desperate dash to get the thing over with. Again, it sucked fun out of the whole thing. Victory is in the preperation.
That said, there's no reason this has to be a live show. If you want to spend time with each player as he's drafted, then do it. Make it an hour and a half to two hour show, but edit it down to 45 minutes for broadcast purposes. Treat it like an awards show. Nobody sees the key grip Oscar on TV except in clips. I doubt you're going to get interview gold from everybody or even a majority of the players so you won't have too much content. Roll some highlights on a split screen or something. Throw some more stats up there, especially on the ticker.
Don't employ James Duthie as the MC EVER AGAIN. Besides his lame attempts at humor (several times tailored just for the Canadians in the crowd), his blindsiding of Tim Thomas, and his overall tone my overall biggest issue with him was his rampant fixation on the last pick. We all understand that somebody will be last pick. It's humiliating to an extent but to harp on it starting with the 4th overall pick and bringing it up at least 3,098 times before the end of the draft was a bit much.
Don't interview the guys that can't speak English. I'm looking at you Pavel.
Get the rookies more involved. Have them hand out the jerseys, run a draft board, SOMETHING other than sit there staring at Chara's backside for half the night.
My over-reaching dream for this show is that they hold it at a rink or on a frozen pond one day and the players put their sticks in a pile and the captains pick teams old school. You can still have a good production value for that (just like the skills competition) and do all of the things I mentioned above. Then you have some photo ops on the ice, role the biggest loser's new car out there, mingle with the media and fans, etc. But that makes way too much sense and will never happen.