The NHL's All-Star festivities are upon us, and even though the sport's best players are set to convene in St. Louis for a weekend-long showcase, the buzz leading up to the event is far from palpable.
This isn't a new problem for the league, either. The NHL All-Star Game isn't circled on the calendars of many fans, and players aren't always keen on going, either. Despite being one of the most popular players of his generation, Alex Ovechkin backed out after being named the Metropolitan Division captain and will serve a one-game suspension instead of travelling to the Gateway City.
Ovi's well within his rights to choose rest as a 15-year veteran, but when someone like Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin, only 23, tells his own fans not to vote him in, it's obvious the event doesn't mean a whole lot to the players.
All-Star Weekend's always been about the fans, but when they don't really care, either, the league's got a significant issue. The NHL's made positive strides in making the event more intriguing in recent years - the move to a three-on-three tournament and the inclusion of women among them - but there's still room for improvement.
Here are three suggestions to make things more exciting:
1. Allow specialists to participate
Stealing a page from the NBA's book, the NHL's marquee skills event would be better if some of the sport's specialists were allowed to participate in the competition.