There was an unexpected change to the 2017 All-Star Game when Wayne Gretzky, the NHL’s all-time leading scorer and arguably its greatest player ever, ended up coaching the Metropolitan Division team as a replacement for Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella.
Tortorella was unable to attend the festivities over the weekend due to a personal matter.
One person that wants to see more of that in the future? Tortorella.
“I’ll tell you, it turned out to be something really good to have Wayne Gretzky on the bench,” Tortorella told Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch following their return from the break.
“Maybe it’s a little bit of a message to the league. That’s what should happen, because the boys had a blast. Maybe that’s the way you go. I don’t want to dictate policy to the league, but that was a pretty cool thing.”
It was a pretty cool thing, and it probably wouldn’t be the worst idea to experiment with in the future. And if there is anything we know about the NHL when it comes to All-Star games, it is a league that is not afraid to experiment given the different formats it has tried over the years. The current 3-on-3 format seems to be the best and most popular of the bunch.
The one problem it might create is that even though there are probably a few coaches that would rather have the break to themselves, there are also certainly some that would love the opportunity to take part in the weekend that would miss out on it. Like Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau, for example.
Boudreau, the coach of the Central Division team at the 2017 game, seemed to be legitimately thrilled to be a part of it and called it a “tremendous honor” and admitted that he was “probably way more excited than I should be” to coach in the game.