The NHL All-Star Game; Must See TV?
I’m going to start off by saying, “I love the All-Star game”. I know it’s not real hockey, and I know it doesn’t mean anything, but I don’t care. I love watching the players try plays they wouldn’t normally try. I love watching them put rivalries and grudges aside. And I love watching them enjoy themselves with their friends and families. And that’s what the weekend is all about; family. Or more importantly, the kids.
They really have the opportunity to put a face to the names of their favorite players as they fly around the rink and show off their skills. They get to share a laugh as Ovechkin sports over-sized clown glasses during his penalty shot. And they get to watch with awe, as the Guardians try to save the NHL from the evil Gary Bettman, or Devan Dark, or whoever it is supposed to be. Wait, I’m lost, who are the Guardians? And what are they doing? Lets just act like the rest of the hockey world, pretend it never happened, and move on.
There are a few things I don’t like about the All-Star game though. First and foremost is, the fan voting. I know it’s only for the first 6 players selected, and fan interaction is normally a good thing, but it’s got to go! At least make changes so that only 1 player per team can be voted in, or something similar. This year, of the 6 selected players, only 2 of them deserve it (Karlsson, and Thomas), which leaves 4 undeserving players. Not only that but it means that 4 players that have earned their right to be there, aren’t, and that’s not sportsmanlike. And what about their legacies? 7-time All-Star sounds better than 4 or 5, depending on how many times that players been snubbed. Could it affect a Hall of Fame induction? I’d like to think not, and maybe I’m going a little too far, but it irritates me to say the least.
The Second thing that upsets me is the new format. I get that it adds a new spin on things. I understand the whole “schoolyard pick-em” thing, and obviously the NHL loves the extra night of festivities and primetime television, but I think the whole thing is a little hokey. I do however like the way they chose the team captains this year though, making one the captain of the host team, and the other the captain of the Stanley Cup winning team. I hope they continue to do it that way if they decide to keep this format. The “pick-em” is good in theory, but the picks just end up being obvious and over-diplomatic. On the schoolyard you wanted to win at all costs, so you would pick the best players. For this event nobody really cares about winning as it is just for fun, so the captains pick their family members or old roommates, teammates, friends, friends of friends, and then if there’s anybody left they might pick by skill. I bet if you took the time to analyze the relationships of each player to the captains, you could easily predict the two teams before they are picked. Then they play an entertaining, but meaningless game, to decide which captain “picked” better. There has to be a better way…
Well, there is, and it is a perfect segue into the third thing I hate about the All-Star game; it’s meaningless. Players could potentially get hurt playing a game that doesn’t mean anything. But, I think there is a simple solution; Follow Major League Baseball. Go back to the classic (and much better) East vs. West format, and have home ice advantage for the Stanley Cup finals up for grabs. It’s what the MLB has done for a number of years now and it works great. I know the NHL is still going to most likely split into 4 Conferences within the next few years, but I hope they take my advice and keep two of them East and two of them West if not just for my purposes here. I know some people will say that it’s not fair for the teams that earn their home ice advantage by winning the most during the regular season, but in my opinion the only thing they have earned by wining their conference is home ice advantage against their conference which they will still get. If they have the easier conference, and most likely have only won the Presidents Trophy by a few points, why should they get a clear advantage over a team that they never competed with that could have had a tougher schedule? So why not have the best players from each conference play-off to decide it? It would be completely fair, and make the All-Star game that much more exciting. Oh, and if the NHL still wanted to do the pick’em thing, the captains from each conference wouldn’t be so diplomatic knowing the fate of the Stanley Cup might be riding on their shoulders…
…and that is the last word.