Claude Giroux arrived and departed Tampa, Florida, as the Flyers' lone All-Star.
As expected, there were injury replacements, but the substitute was selected from the same team as the chosen All-Star. With New Jersey's Taylor Hall unable to participate with an injured right thumb, the league tabbed Brian Boyle as Hall's replacement. The only way Jakub Voracek or Sean Couturier would have gone had Giroux been forced to withdraw.
While statistically, Boyle's numbers (11-6-17) pale in comparison to Voracek (9-47-56) or Couturier (26-23-49), it's hard to argue against the sentimental selection of Boyle, who battled back from chronic myeloid leukemia during training camp to return to the Devils this season. Boyle, a first-time All-Star, was emotional after accepting the league's invitation to join the best in the world, and it was fantastic to see the Lightning fans give Boyle a standing ovation. Boyle played in Tampa Bay from 2014-17.
Metropolitan Division teammates Boyle and Giroux started their game against the Atlantic Division with Columbus defenseman Zach Werenski on their line. Giroux had this brilliant snap shot that beat the Lightning's Andrei Vasilevskiy in their 7-4 semifinal loss to the Atlantic.
Giroux to Boyle? Nah. He's got it himself. pic.twitter.com/rCCjeXtgLU
— Dylan Nadwodny (@dnadders) January 28, 2018
All-Star weekend in Philly?
Philadelphia hasn't hosted the NHL's All-Star weekend since 1992. That year saw the Campbell Conference All-Stars beat the Wales Conference All-Stars, 10-6, with Brett Hull earning MVP honors. Rod Brind'Amour was the Flyers' lone representative.
While the Flyers' organization has expressed their interest in hosting another All-Star event, a Comcast-Spectacor executive still believes the NHL is eyeballing Philly for 2026, which would commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in the nation's birthplace.
What format suits you?
This year's All-Star event marked the third straight time the league has utilized the popular 3-on-3 format and it will be interesting to see how long the NHL decides to stick with it, as San Jose will host next year's All-Star festivities. The league has been a trendsetter when it comes to re-inventing itself and devising new methods of showcasing the All-Star Game. Prior to 3-on-3, the NHL created the fantasy draft which the NBA adopted this season.
Previously, we've seen a North American against the World format, as well as, the traditional Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format.
Saturday, I asked on Twitter which format you preferred and here's how you voted.
What's your favorite NHL All-Star Game format?
— John Boruk (@johnborukNBCS) January 28, 2018
Personally, I'd like to see some form of the draft re-instituted while still also maintaining the popular 3-on-3 format. I covered the draft in Columbus, Ohio, in 2015 between Team Toews and Team Foligno and it made for a fun and exciting prelude to the game itself, as Giroux and Voracek were selected on opposite squads. Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin made the event even more intriguing with his plea to be chosen last in an effort to win a new car for charity.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced Saturday the league will once again open up the season overseas. The Oilers and Devils will open the 2018-19 regular season in Stockholm, Sweden. The following month the Panthers and Jets will play a pair of games in Finland.
Also, the NHL will return to China with teams, dates and venues still to be determined. Last season, the Kings swept the Canucks in games in Shanghai and Beijing. According to SportsNet Canada, the Flames and Bruins, not the Flyers, are in discussion to play two games in China.
With the announcement of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, hockey is now one of the fastest growing sports in China, and the NHL is wise to tap into the world's largest country as a potential fanbase. Last summer, a family from China came to the United States as part of their summer vacation. Their itinerary included having the youngsters participate for two weeks at Jim Watson's Hockey Camp at IceWorks in Aston, Pennsylvania.
4 kids from China at Jim Watson's camp. Hockey is booming over there with Olympics coming to Beijing in 2022 pic.twitter.com/N7mco7Fksr
— John Boruk (@johnborukNBCS) July 28, 2017
The kids from China certainly didn't look out of place and their parents really took to Watson's approach to structure and discipline. In 2015, Andong Song became the first Chinese-born player selected in the NHL draft when the Islanders snagged him in the sixth round. Song played at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey and is currently competing with the Madison Capitols of the USHL.