Thursday November 19th, 2015

Count Wayne Gretzky among the fans of the NHL’s new All-Star Game format.

The Great One said on Thursday that he thinks the midseason classic needed a shakeup and that fans and players alike will love the three-on-three action.

“I’m really excited for the All-Star Game,” he told WGR in Buffalo. “When I was a kid ... we watched every All-Star Game. You watched Bobby Orr and Gilbert Perreault and Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe and you wanted to play in that game. And we lost that luster for that game over the last 15 to 20 years and I think this is something that’s going to perk up the energy and excitement level again for the sport.

NHL announces details of its new 2016 All-Star Game format

“I just think it’s a real positive and I think the players will truly look forward to it. I mean, I would be excited. I’d love to be able to get out there with [Mark] Messier and [Paul] Coffey. Maybe we could play!”

Gretzky also had kind words for Sabres rookie Jack Eichel.

“I've watched him closely,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of great players come through the National Hockey League, and whenever someone retires we always say, ‘Who’s going to take over the mantle?’ and somebody steps in and takes over that role and we don’t miss a beat. Now, with Eichel and [Connor] McDavid both in the league, this is the closest we’ve had to a Larry Bird and Magic Johnson situation.

“I give [Eichel] a lot of credit. He stepped into situation where a lot of people thought they were gonna get McDavid. It didn’t happen that way because of the lottery so he had a tremendous amount of pressure on him. He had the confidence and the ability to step in there and be himself. I’m just really proud of how hard he plays and how exciting he is. I think he’s been great not only for Buffalo but for the whole National Hockey League and that’s wonderfu.l”

You can listen to the entire interview with Gretzky here.

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