The league announced today a new set of guidelines for fan voting for the 2017 NHL All-Star in Los Angeles on January 29th. The changes are as follows:
- The 2017 NHL All-Star Fan Vote will allow fans to vote for one All-Star player from each Division, without regard to position. The top vote-getter from each Division will be named an NHL All-Star, as well as Captain of his respective team.
- Eligible players must be on an NHL Club’s active roster as of Nov. 1. Any player not on the active roster on that date due to injury or special circumstances can be added to the ballot if / when he returns to the NHL Club’s active roster.
- If a player is assigned/loaned to the American Hockey League (AHL) or any other minor league team between Nov. 1 and 5 p.m. on Jan. 26, the player is not eligible in All-Star balloting. However, if the minor league assignment/loan is due to conditioning reasons, the player remains eligible.
- In the event a vote leader is disqualified due to a minor league assignment or loan (or other reason) after close of the NHL All-Star Fan Vote on Jan. 2, the player with the second-most votes in that division will be named captain.
- Fans will be permitted to vote for a player from a list of all players that meet these eligibility guidelines. The list of eligible players will be updated as players are assigned to a minor league team or return from IR.
This new set of rules for the selection of team captains for the 3-on-3 tournament that was adopted last season and will continue this year is clearly meant to do one thing: prevent another John Scott situation. Scott, a career enforcer, had only played in eleven games for the Arizona Coyotes in 2015-16 and had recorded just one point when he was selected by the fans as the captain of the Pacific Division All-Star team. A huge social media push to get the 6’8″, 260-lb. winger with just 11 career points in 286 games into the All-Star game was wildly successful, but made a mockery of the voting process by putting perhaps the least talented player in the league into a game for the best of the best. After his selection, Arizona sent Scott to the AHL and then later traded him to the Montreal Canadiens (who also demoted him) all before All-Star weekend. Yet, Scott was still allowed to captain the Pacific squad and was even named tournament MVP, despite the league’s best efforts to ignore the fan vote and exclude him.
Despite the fanfare surrounding Scott’s selection last year, the NHL is hoping to avoid a repeat performance. The new rules disqualify AHL-caliber players – like Scott (and Rory Fitzpatrick before him) – from selection, ensuring that at the very least, this year’s All-Star game will have NHL talent. Fourth liners and press box frequenters could still slip in, but the NHL has made it known that they would like the All-Star game to be an exhibition of top talent and hope that the fan voting aligns with that position.