2017 AHL All-Star Challenge Format Revealed

(Photo Credit: @ManitobaMoose // Twitter)
Last season saw Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason and forward Frédérick Gaudreau win the inaugural AHL All-Star Challenge with the Central Division All-Stars. (Photo Credit: @ManitobaMoose // Twitter)

If you remember last year’s All-Star Game competitions for both the NHL and AHL they were heading into uncharted territory. Both were seeking different but new ways to enhance they manner in which the entertainment of the game is played by creating a more competitive atmosphere. The NHL got it spot on. The AHL’s format a year ago was a bit more over the top. A year later, surprise surprise, the AHL is adopting the more successful formula.

Press Release via AHL:

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and Chief Executive Officer David Andrews announced today the format for the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross, to be held January 29-30 at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pa., home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

The event will begin on Sunday, Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m. ET with the traditional AHL All-Star Skills Competition. All-Stars from the Eastern Conference will square off against All-Stars from the Western Conference in seven skills events, including hardest shot, fastest skater and accuracy shooting.

2017 AHL All-Star Challenge(Click to enlarge)
Then on Monday, Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. ET, the 2017 AHL All-Star Challenge will take place. The league’s all-stars will be divided into four teams, representing each of the league’s divisions (Atlantic, North, Central, Pacific), and the teams will participate in a round-robin tournament featuring six games of 10 minutes each, played entirely at 3-on-3. The two teams with the best records at the end of the round-robin will face off for the championship, a six-minute game also played at 3-on-3. Last year’s inaugural All-Star Challenge was won by the Central Division.

Rosters for each team will be composed of 10 skaters and two goaltenders each. All 30 AHL teams will be represented by at least one All-Star player. The coach for each team will be the AHL head coach whose team has the highest points percentage in each division at the end of play on Dec. 31.

Starting at just $67, tickets for the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross are on sale now and include admission to Saturday’s Phan Fest & Tailgate Party, Sunday’s AHL All-Star Skills Competition and Monday’s AHL All-Star Challenge. To purchase event tickets, please visit www.phantomshockey.com or www.pplcenter.com.

The 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross will feature the top young talent in the American Hockey League: since 1995, more than 93 percent of All-Star Classic participants have gone on to compete in the National Hockey League, including Jake Allen, Artem Anisimov, Patrice Bergeron, Ben Bishop, Troy Brouwer, Ryan Callahan, Zdeno Chara, Logan Couture, Braden Holtby, Tyler Johnson, Martin Jones, Chris Kunitz, Zach Parise, Tuukka Rask, Pekka Rinne, Bobby Ryan, Cory Schneider, Patrick Sharp, Jason Spezza, P.K. Subban and Mats Zuccarello, as well as former Lehigh Valley Phantoms representatives Nick Cousins, Brandon Manning and Anthony Stolarz.

In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, trainers, executives and broadcasters of all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 88 percent of NHL players last season were AHL graduates, and more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame spent time in the AHL in their careers. In 2015-16, over 7.1 million fans attended AHL regular-season and playoff games across North America, the highest total attendance in league history.

The short and sweet of it can best be understood by the following infographic that the AHL provided to explain the new All-Star Challenge format:2017-asc-infographic

Again, it is basically what the NHL cooked up for the 2016 NHL All-Star Game that took place in Nashville and was met with tons of praise, excitement, and John Scott. It gets rid of the jumbled up four-on-four portion of the AHL’s version of the All-Star Game a year ago and should make for a more streamlined game.

Should things keep up as they are the Central Division All-Stars could have Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason behind the bench just as they did when they won the Inaugural AHL All-Star Challenge a season ago. If the Admirals have the best record in their division by the end of the month of December it will see Evason earn the All-Star nod as a coach for the second consecutive season.

What are your thoughts on the AHL’s change to their All-Star Game? Did you enjoy their version more last season or did the NHL’s version make more sense?

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