Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dream or reality?

With news breaking last month that the NBL (National Basketball League) would be reintroducing an All-Star Game for the 2012/13 season, it got me thinking if such a concept could also be introduced into the AIHL. 

With the AIHL continually growing year by year & also exposure becoming more prominent in media circles, an All-Star game could be something that provides an even bigger boost to ice hockey in this country.

The introduction of the conference system for the current 2012 season, it seems as though the league already has a perfect starting point for the concept to go ahead. A Bauer v Easton type match up with the top skaters from teams in either division going head to head, it would be an exciting match that would surely bring the crowds through the turnstiles.

Not that hockey fans need any extra motivation to get to an ice rink.

Or we could also follow the NBL by having an Australian v import type setup, where the best import players face off against the top Australian skaters in the league. While many would look at that concept & think it would be an easy import victory, let's not forget the current AIHL holds many Australian mighty roo players.

Another thing which would need to be decided is when & where this game should take place?

Should we see an All-Star game over a single day? or across a two day weekend?

It's an interesting discussion point, as i think a two day weekend could prove to be a very successful attraction for the league. 

I have come up with a list of things which the AIHL could include if an All-Star game was carried over a two day weekend:
  • Junior/local club hockey exposure - Not only do we have the AIHL in this country, but we also have a junior & senior local hockey club setup. Teams which have a storied history in Australia, teams such as the Blackhawks Ice Hockey Club which have been around since 1947. An All-Star weekend would be the perfect chance to give all these junior & local senior clubs exposure, especially to fans who might not know they exist.
  • Hockey Lessons - We could see the inclusion of hockey lessons, on ice or off ice it can still be a success. It would give fans the opportunity to learn from the best Australia has to offer, it doesn't have to be a one on one lesson, but an overall group display.
  • Host Cities/Towns - It would also give the AIHL a chance to showcase the sport in a different city or town each year, rotating around the country getting exposure in places which may not know about the AIHL or that hockey actually gets played here.
  • TV Coverage - Not only would it give media outlets a chance to expose the AIHL on TV, radio or in newspapers, but it might even give the AIHL some bargaining power to show the actual All-Star Game on TV. With Channel 31 already giving hockey airtime, an All-Star game could be something which even the ABC might be interested in. They already show the W-League (Women's soccer) so why couldn't the AIHL have an opportunity at a one game TV deal?
  • Player Appearance - This could also turn out to be a massive plus for the AIHL, player appearances & interaction is what all sporting fans want. An All-Star weekend would give all AIHL fans a chance to talk, take photos & get autographs from their favourite hockey stars, something which is important to all clubs in this country.

All these points are a just a few ideas which the league could incorporate into a great day or weekend on AIHL hockey, something that i think needs real consideration. It might not happen over night, but surely it should be in the plans for hockey going forward in this country?

We have seen the success which All-Star, Winter Classic type games have had in the NHL of North America. So why couldn't it happen here?

Of course we wouln't see it on the level that they have over in the NHL, they are a mutli billion dollar business & an established entity. 

But the concept & ideas would all be the same, it would get the AIHL name & for that matter hockey in general, out into the wider community a whole lot more. 

Of course these are just a few of the pros which come along with an event like this, there is always some negatives as well. 

Which would include:
  • Schedule readjustments 
  • Extra travel for hockey players
  • Cost of the event
Something the AIHL would have to look closely at & work with all the parties involved in making a day/weekend like this reality & not just a hockey fans dream.

Would you support an All-Star Game?

By Andrew Macdougall

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