I wouldn’t lose sleep if the NHL decided to do away with the NHL all-star game and simply give the players four or five days off to rest and heal in preparation for the stretch drive.

Of course, as yawn-inducing as the emotionless all-star version of the game has become — surpassed in boredom quotient only by Saturday’s skills competition that featured, fittingly, players sleep-walking through a shootout-style competition — that’s likely not going to happen.

For what it’s worth, I’d rather see a regular-season game played outdoors with two points on the line on the last day of the schedule before the pause that’s usually reserved for all-star festivities.

For fans needing a spectacle to break up the monotony of the season, the NHL should pick a city, pick the teams and pick the venue and make it the gala event that the all-star game once was.

Then, give everybody a break.

Wouldn’t you rather see Boston play Montreal at Fenway Park or the Oilers face the Calgary Flames on a frigid day at Commonwealth Stadium than watch a game devoid of the qualities — intensity and physicality — that makes it great? I would.

Instead of suspending Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk for opting out, Gary Bettman would be better advised to dump the all-star format and take the game outside, with points up for grabs.

Surely, the NHL could fulfil its obligations to its many worthy charities and sponsors and provide a little more pizzazz with an outdoor game.

Oilers forward Andrew Cogliano showed fans what the faithful at Rexall Place already know by winning the fastest skater competition before Saturday’s Youngstars game, blazing around the ice in a time of 14.31 seconds.

Cogliano, 21, wasn’t even the fastest skater at the Oilers skills competition — Erik Cole was, but the sophomore outlegged five other skaters to win the race. Cogliano was nowhere near the record set by Mike Gartner 15 years ago. What’s amazing about that is Gartner set the record of 13.51 seconds at the age of 34.


While Montreal remains the likely destination for Vincent Lecavalier if Tampa Bay decides to trade him, is there anybody not named Ales Hemsky you wouldn’t put in a package to get him if you were GM Steve Tambellini? ... Expect an announcement this week that the Oilers have purchased the Edmonton Cracker Cats of the Golden Baseball League from Dan Orlich for $400,000 ... When the NHL takes another look at the issue of fighting, it should start by repealing the instigator rule and institute penalties for any player who intentionally removes his helmet before a fight ... If the Oilers, who hit the break at 24-19-3, can beat the Buffalo Sabres tomorrow, they’ll have four straight wins for the first time since opening the season with a quartet of victories.

– In a decade covering the Edmonton sports scene, Robin Brownlee has been the news-breaker and insightful voice for sports fans in Oil Country.