TORONTO - The NHL is shaking up its stale all-star format.
A source confirmed Tuesday that two captains will choose players from either conference to make up the teams for the 2011 game in Carolina. Since 2003, the all-star game has been contested between representatives from the Eastern Conference and Western Conference.
The idea was formulated by NHL vice-president Brendan Shanahan, who consulted with former player Rob Blake and the NHL Players' Association. Shanahan outlined the change during the GM meetings on Tuesday but was reluctant to discuss it with the media afterwards.
"We've worked for a little while now on this idea, this concept, closely with the NHLPA," said Shanahan. "They like the idea. Some of the players that they've talked to—potential all-stars—they seem sort of excited and energized by it."
A spokesman for the NHLPA indicated that a formal announcement is pending.
"The NHLPA has been working closely with the NHL to revamp the all-star game weekend and we are looking forward to announcing details soon," said Jonathan Weatherdon.
The teams are expected to be picked during a live television event at the start of the all-star weekend. Players will earn a trip to the game the same way as the past—with fans voting for the starters and the NHL's hockey operations staff rounding out the rest of the pool.
The 2011 all-star game will be held Jan. 30 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C., with a skills competition to take place the night before.
The NHL has long been looking for ways to make the game more interesting.
"We know what it is and we know what it's not," said Shanahan. "It's an entertaining, fun game. Fans like to be entertained by the players showing their competitive spirit with a big smile on their face
"It's not a Stanley Cup final, it's not an Olympic Games. It's never going to be that."
The league's general managers seem to be supportive of the idea put forward by Shanahan.
"I wouldn't be specific because the league hasn't announced what the guidelines are," said Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke. "Certainly what I heard in there we would support."
The 2012 all-star game is scheduled to take place at Ottawa's Scotiabank Place.