Midway through the NHL season there’s a break from the games to allow for a series of exhibition events between the top players in the league.  The NHL’s All Star break is similar to that of the NBA and MLB, played near the halfway point instead of waiting until the year is over (like the NFL does).

This year, an exciting change to the festivities will be put into place.

For the past several seasons, the NHL All Star teams were split up depending on a player’s contractual team’s East / West conference designation.  For the All Star games played between 1998 and 2002, it was a player’s home country which determined which All Star team onto which they would be placed.

This year the game takes a turn which has more ties to Fantasy Sports than it does to the Olympics or how other sports run their games.

All Star teams will be picked by captains.

Fans will still get to vote players into the All Star game, with their voting determining several of the spots.  After the remainder of the spots are decided, the players determined to be All Stars will pick two captains.  Those captains will then have a draft, of sorts, to fill out their rosters.  Each of the two rosters will need to have 3 goalies and 6 defenders to go with the mix of forwards.  The first pick in the draft is to be determined by coin flip once the captains are chosen.

This is an exciting change to the festivities and a great move by the NHL.  Its similarities with Fantasy Sports is sure to give it a more surreal feel, and the prospect of seeing various combinations of players is definitely exciting.  Just like with last year’s trick shot contest, this allows more of a player’s personality to come forth as we saw with Malkin and Ovechkin.