Saturday, 27 August 2016

Be More Like The Russians

I have to admit that I am a fan of the KHL All-Star Game logo for the 2015 KHL All-Star Game. Seen to the left, it makes most other all-star game logos pale in comparison to it. According to the release by the KHL, "[t]he colors of Bashkiria and the image of a national hero will illuminate the 2017 All-Star Game as the KHL's Hockey Week heads to Ufa, the capital of the republic of Bashkiria. If the two teams suit up in the colors shown, this season's KHL All-Star gala will look pretty darn good too!

What makes this year's KHL All-Star weekend special, however, is the fact that the KHL has opened up its weekend to include all levels of hockey in Russia! Ufa will play host to the KHL All-Star game, the MHL Challenge Cup, and the inaugural Women's Hockey League All-Star Game! The MHL is Russia's junior league, and the MHL is becoming thee feeder league for the KHL. In order to continue to promote the MHL, "the four top players in the Challenge Cup will be invited to join the megastars of the KHL on the ice for the All-Star Game itself"! How cool is that?

Imagine if North American hockey did something like this? The NHL could grab the leading scorer from each of the CHL's leagues and the USHL and plug them into the NHL All-Star Game with the stars. Potentially, we could see the WHL's Nolan Patrick, the USHL's Eeli Tolvanen, the QMJHL's Maxime Comtois, and the OHL's Owen Tippett join the NHL stars in Los Angeles where they would play with one of the teams. It would be a great way for the top prospect from each league to get their feet wet and learn from their heroes at the mid-season gala, and it would be some good exposure for the prospects when it came to the fans and the general managers at the game.

The CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game where Don Cherry and Bobby Orr coach their respective teams of prospects goes on January 26, 2017 this season, and the NHL All-Star Weekend is on January 28 and 29. The USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is on January 10, 2017. You'd think that each league would want to get together and let their prospects play still, so have the prospects play the weekend prior to the NHL All-Star Game, and send the best kids to the NHL All-Star Game a week later. Seems easy, right?

The second big portion of the KHL's weekend is the first annual Women's Hockey League All-Star Game! We saw the NHL try and include the two North American women's leagues into the Winter Classic last season, but it seemed like there were more headaches and problems than the NHL wanted when it came to getting the CWHL and NWHL on the same page and on the ice. While I'd love to see these two leagues come to some sort of agreement when it came to working together, the animosity that they share for one another would make it difficult for the NHL to include them both at the All-Star Weekend. And if both can't go, neither can go. No favoritism with the NHL.

Ok, so maybe we should just one step at a time here in North America. In Russia, though, they are doing things right with their All-Star Weekend. The kids are included, the women are included, and the best professional men playing hockey in Russia are included. Why can't we make something like this work in North America?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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