NHL unveils new All-Star Game format

The National Hockey League and the NHL Player’s Association Wednesday unveiled a new format for the 2011 All-Star Game in Raleigh, N.C.

In the new system, the fans will vote on the All-Stars, but the teams will be determined in a fantasy draft that will take place Jan. 28, two days before the All-Star Game. Instead of the traditional Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format, the two team captains will select players for their team.

"There is no doubt that the competitive juices will rise when the players themselves select the lineups for their All-Star teams as well as deciding who will go head to head in the skills challenges," said Mike Ouellet, chief of business affairs for the NHL Players Association.

"The league and the NHLPA are looking forward to the excitement this new format will create for the fans and the players at the NHL All-Star Weekend in Carolina."

The skills challenges, which include Fastest Skater and Hardest Shot, will take place the night before the game, Jan. 29.

The voting begins Nov. 15 and ends Jan. 3, with fans selecting six players for the All-Star Game. The top six vote-getters will make the team, and the NHL will choose the other 36 participants. That group of players will then vote on two team captains for the fantasy draft.

"The goal of the All-Star format change was designed to make the game more fun for everyone involved. By giving the players more input on team selection, as well as skills competition matchups, we feel the 2011 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft will inject more excitement and intrigue into all the events surrounding All-Star weekend," said Brendan Shanahan, vice president of hockey and business development for the NHL.

There was no NHL All-Star Game last season because of the Winter Olympics. The last game, in 2009, was won 12-11 by the East.

From 1998 to 2002, the All-Star Game was played in a North America vs. World format.