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All-Star draft set to return as Toronto hosts annual best-of

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Photo credit:Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
2 months ago
The draft format for the NHL’s All-Star game is set to return in Toronto for the first time since 2015.
Toronto Maple Leafs fans, however, are no strangers to this in thanks to what happened with Phil Kessel in the inaugural All-Star draft in 2011. There, Kessel, the lone Leaf at the event, was the last player of 42 selected, but was given a Honda CR-Z and US$20,000, which he donated to a cancer charity.
All-Star weekend will kick off on Feb. 1, with what the league is calling “All-Star Thursday.” There, celebrities will be paired with captains, who will draft players to their teams. The day will also see the NHL’s Alumni Association announce its Man of the Year, paying tribute to the 1967 Toronto Maple Leafs, the last to win the cup in the city.
With the newly minted Professional Women’s Hockey League kicking off a month prior, the NHL will bring them in for a 3-on-3 game.
“We’ve decided to add a third night to an already vibrant weekend,” NHL chief content officer Steve Mayer said in a statement. “We felt like this was a year to make some changes, and Thursday night is one of many other changes that you’re going to hear about in the coming weeks.
“We felt like that was something that was a really fun piece in past years. We started to hear our fans, our players, ask, ‘What about the draft?’ And we’ve seen some other leagues doing after we did it first, and we were like, ‘You know what? I think it’s time for us to bring it back.’”
The NHL is already preparing something humorous for the last players picked, Mayer added, saying, “In order to make this work, we needed the players’ buy-in, and the NHLPA has been incredible to work with.”
“They are leaning into events like this draft. They, like we do, see the value of exposing the players, having fun with the players.”
Meanwhile, the NHL is returning to its All-Star roots in Toronto. The city hosted the first rendition of a best-on-best of NHL players in 1934, hosting a benefit for Maple Leafs forward Ace Bailey, after his playing career ended due to an injury.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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