It’s time to bring back the WHL All-Star Game

It has been nearly 20 years since the East clashed with the West in a true WHL best-on-best All-Star Game.

Since 2000-01, that game was replaced in various forms, most of which have been Team WHL against a Russian Junior All-Star team or prospective U20 World Junior group.

Some of those games have been spectacular and some have been duds. It’s a joy for scouts because they get to watch Canadian Western League draft-eligible players against some of the best.

Sometimes, the game is less draft-eligible focused and looks at World Junior hopefuls, depends on the particular year.

This season, Team WHL beat the Russians 2-1, before Russia got the best of Team WHL 3-1 on Tuesday. They weren’t the best, but not the worst either.

There have been plenty of ideas proposed to freshen up the game, including from The Pipeline Show host Guy Flaming.

He suggested Team WHL play against a world group, which would bring the Americans into the fold. Instead of bringing over a Russian team that only featured one WHLer this year, Flaming thinks a WHL world team could have players from up to eight countries and also show off more of the League’s top talent. It’s a fun, new and different idea.

While that could be interesting, what about a good old fashion all-star weekend?

The NHL has freshened up their game with a three-on-three tournament and with so much skill across the WHL, that could be fun to see players in that environment who fans don’t often get to see.

The CIBC Canada Russia Series, which also pits an OHL and QMJHL all-star groups against the Russians is good for Hockey Canada because it gives them another look at world junior hopefuls.

I also recognize the current format plays well on TV. It’s good for scouts too, but is it good for the players or what’s best for the fans?

I would argue that getting back to the grassroots, having more fun and allowing these kids to be kids should be the focus.

Throw the sticks in the middle and separate into a couple teams for a weekend would be a bundle of fun. There’s so much untapped personality in the WHL and to give the kids a platform to show that off would only help the league.

Fastest player in the WHL? who knows? Hardest shot, heck let’s find out.

Showcase a different community across the league each year, too.

With such a competitive year of hockey, that includes long road trips, night-in and night-out battles over the course of seven months, why not let the players have a little fun.

Logistically, finding a weekend over the WHL season that will work would be tough, but not impossible with building availability and the need to fit in a 68 game schedule.

With all the reasons not to do it, fun for the players and fans should be the priority and still makes the most sense to bring a new wrinkle to an old game.



Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

1,200 runners came out to Woody’s RV Marathon in Red Deer

Red Deer’s Matthew Hope ran in the Woody’s RV World Marathon for… Continue reading

Two men steal 16 year old’s car at gunpoint in Alberta

RCMP are looking for two men who allegedly produced a handgun and… Continue reading

Mother of five who died in hit and run in central Alberta a huge loss to family, police say

Rocky Mountain House RCMP continue to investigate hit and killed case on… Continue reading

‘Rope-a-dope’: Environmentalists say Alberta war room threat won’t distract them

EDMONTON — Environmental groups targeted by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney are shrugging… Continue reading

Speed, alcohol considered factors in deadly Calgary crash: police

CALGARY — The Calgary Police Service says two people are dead after… Continue reading

WATCH: First Red Deer Market of 2019

The event is held every Saturday in the Servus Arena parking lot

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Speaker stuns Morehouse grads, to pay off $40M student debt

A billionaire technology investor stunned the entire graduating class at Morehouse College… Continue reading

Unions increasingly at odds over replacing troubled Phoenix pay system

OTTAWA — The federal team charged with finding a replacement for the… Continue reading

Sisters of Ste-Anne hold unique garage sale before giving up Montreal convent

MONTREAL — The Montreal-area Sisters of Ste-Anne are hosting a unique garage… Continue reading

Canadian pilot Patrick Forseth killed in Honduras plane crash: sister

TRUJILLO, Honduras — A British Columbia woman says her pilot brother was… Continue reading

As states pass restrictive abortion laws, questions surface

ATLANTA — As multiple states pass laws banning many abortions, questions have… Continue reading

Pelosi being honoured with JFK Profile in Courage Award

BOSTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is being honoured with the 2019… Continue reading

India’s marathon national election reaches the finish line

KOLKATA, India — Voting in India’s mammoth national election ended Sunday with… Continue reading

Most Read