NASHVILLE — The problem with last year’s All-Star Game in Columbus is that the players didn’t really care who won, and it showed.
That’s kind of a blunt way of putting it, but for those who watched it — and that’s another story — it was pretty clear that the effort level was lacking. Defense wasn’t merely optional in the 17-12 affair; it was completely missing.
So the NHL changed the format. No more five-on-five for 60 minutes; this year, it’ll be a 3-on-3 tournament pitting the four divisions against each other.
And to help convince the players to, you know…try…the winning team will split a million bucks.
Will it work?
“You always play a little harder with something on the line,” said Ducks forward Corey Perry.
“We don’t need [the money], really, it’s just something we can play for,” said Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. “I think the fans are really going to enjoy it. I think, even as a player, we’re all going to enjoy it.”
It remains to be seen how much more effort the players will give. Nobody expects them to hit. Nobody expects them to lay out to block shots.
Just try a little bit harder than last year, and act like the final score matters a tiny bit.
That’s not too much to ask.