WHY I DIDN'T MISS THE ALL-STAR GAME

 

Everybody has their lists.  David Letterman has his Top 10 list.  Billboard has the Hot 100.  Guitar World recently published their own list of the 100 greatest guitar riffs of all time.  I think you get my point. 

In the spirit of the recently played All-Star game and Skills Competition, I have a list of my own – The Top 30 reasons why I didn’t miss having an All-Star weekend, or week, as it turned out this year.  We had no All-Star festivities for three years, and quite frankly, I could do without it moving forward.  Sorry fans, but this is just how I feel.  And given the pathetic display witnessed this past week, I think a lot of die-hard fans will agree with me.

Without further ado, the list, in typical Rick Dees or Ryan Seacrest fashion – counted down – of course, I made a list of 30 as there are 30 NHL teams – 30 reasons why I, as a die-hard hockey fan, actually found myself both bored and annoyed by the spectacle in Dallas:

30 – Unlike in other major league sports, the NHL All-Star Game means absolutely nothing in the overall outcome of the season.

29 – I can actually see Sidney Crosby score a goal when the games are for real.

28 – No hitting = ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.  It’s nice to actually get some rest when you’re fighting the flu, but this just bordered on ridiculous.

27 – General managers shouldn’t need the All-Star Game as an excuse to have a meeting.

26 – If I want to see an opening act, I’ll go to a rock concert, not a hockey game.

25 – I don’t need to watch an All-Star Game to see Alexander Ovechkin with a smile on his face.

24 – Speaking of Ovechkin, you won’t ever see Dion Phaneuf throw a punishing hip check on him in any All-Star Game.

23 – If the rumors are true, what does one think about Peter Forsberg faking an injury just so he didn’t have to take part in the festivities?

22 – As far as I’m concerned, “In The Zone” means a goaltender is actually stopping the puck.

21 – All-Star coaches may be named every year, but there is absolutely no coaching needed for this event.

20 – Players get less of a break going to All-Star week than they do going to the Olympics.

19 – I don’t get to see every team face each other at least once a season now, what’s the difference if I miss seeing an All-Star game for another 3 years?

18 – I get to hear just as many rumors about trades that won’t happen with or without the break.

17 – Every player in the NHL makes more than enough money to be able to buy themselves a car, I don’t need to see the best player of an exhibition game win one just because they scored a couple of goals.  Am I watching hockey or “The Price Is Right”?

16 – My Name Is Earl, Little Mosque On The Prairie, The Karate Kid Part II and White Christmas are all still on my PVR after more than a week – guess which didn’t even stay on it for an hour before it was promptly erased?  (Think about that for a second – that’s pretty sad isn’t it?)

15 – Watching the paint dry in my newly renovated guest bedroom was more exciting than the skills competition.

14 – We all know Andy McDonald has wheels, and we all know Mike Gartner was just lucky in the fastest skater competition way back when.

13 – The new uniform designs, as nice as they are, could have been rolled out during the last entry draft instead and we could be seeing them in use this season.

12 – Ottawa was passed on for a future All-Star Game, again.

11 – Not having Don Cherry on with Ron Maclean is just wrong, regardless of your opinion of the man.

10 – I can do without Gary Bettman’s overconfidence over the state of the game and the health of the league.

9 – I see enough Buffalo games to know Daniel Briere could be league MVP without showing off his skills in a pickup game.

8 – It seems with Ray Bourque no longer playing the game, there isn’t anybody who can go 4 for 4 in the shot accuracy contest.

7 – I already know Zdeno Chara has the hardest shot in the league, I don’t need a radar gun to prove it – I can just ask Daniel Alfredsson.

6 – When the real season is on, I don’t have to hear Player X tell white lies about how the All-Star Game is the highlight of their career so far.  I don’t doubt the experience is a fun one and I don’t doubt a player is honored to be named to the team, but cut the crap – any player would trade the experience for a Cup Ring or Gold Medal any day, I can guarantee it.

5 – I find Martin Brodeur’s chase of Terry Sawchuk’s shutout record and Patrick Roy’s all time record to be much more intriguing than watching him get lit up during a 20 minute exhibition period.

4 – I much better enjoy watching a game where Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin are at opposite ends of the ice, and with the current schedule format I get to see it four times a season.

3 – When any fan who knows anything about web design can influence the voting like what we saw with Rory Fitzpatrick, how confident can we be that the real All-Stars are actually named to the event?

2 – Since I can see a shootout at least once a week, the annual mystique of the Skills Competition has worn out its welcome.

1 – If I want to see a popularity contest, I’ll just tune into the latest season of American or Canadian Idol.

ALONG THE BOARDS

I haven’t seen the official ratings, but from everybody I’ve talked to, this latest All-Star week was hardly a topic of conversation, and when it was, a few of the adjectives I heard were “brutal”, “boring”, “a joke”…need I say more?  And these are not just your everyday fans, these are people who watch hockey as much, if not more than me!  Perhaps if the NHL would consider a few tweaks to the whole All-Star debacle, it would be more interesting for the fans moving forward.

For starters, if they want to emphasize the shootout so much, why not give it a bit of a twist in the sense players can try to pull fancy moves in the tradition of the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest?  Award more points to the conference who can razzle dazzle the most.  Better yet, instead of letting Sidney Crosby and Teemu Selanne go head to head, why not make every player shoot, regardless of how many goals are scored, and then see where it ends up?  Another idea which I think would make the All-Star game mean something – like they do in Baseball, give the winning conference home ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Finals.  We all know 1st thru 8th will make the playoffs, why not give a little incentive for the teams to play a little harder?  (And no, I’m not just saying this because the Western Conference won the game!)  Now at the end of the day, if the NHL isn’t willing to spice things up a bit, perhaps then they should consider having the All-Star game during Exhibition play in September.  Hold the voting over the summer when everybody is suffering from hockey withdrawal, and then hold the actual game just after the Exhibition schedule ends and hold off the start of the regular season a few days and have the All-Star Game.  To me, this would just serve to whet our appetite for the new season and I’m willing to bet money fans would watch.

I mentioned this in the list, but it’s worth mentioning again – yet again Ottawa was snubbed for an All-Star Game.  It was announced the 2008-09 game will be played in Montreal, which I guess seems only fitting given the Habs will celebrate their centennial year, but I have to wonder how many more excuses Bettman and the NHL will make for not awarding the game to Ottawa.  They certainly can’t use the excuse any longer of there not being enough infrastructure or facilities.  Sure, when they first built the building which is today labeled Scotiabank Place, there was absolutely nothing around with the exception of a quarry and a few potholes, but these days there are at least five hotels, an adjoining “Sensplex”, a car dealership, a plethora of restaurants surrounded by a shopping complex which includes a 24 screen movie theatre.  And if the worry is transportation from Ottawa-Kanata, forget about it – if necessary O.C. Transpo has their own lane which you can get from where I live on the east end to the rink in about 30 minutes flat.  So before the NHL considers the new Prudential Centre in Newark as the venue after Montreal for the All Star Game, they need to give Ottawa a fighting chance.  The World Juniors are here in 2009, why not get the All-Star game here in 2010?

His agent vehemently denies the rumors, but speculation is Peter Forsberg will have a new home by the time the trading deadline has come and gone.  Philadelphia has no hope of making the playoffs, at least not this season, and if you believe everything you hear, everybody from Ottawa to Montreal to even Colorado will be lined up trying to get him for the stretch run.  The question is, what will he be worth?

If you would have told me St. Louis, Phoenix and Columbus, three teams who made up the Western Conference basement after the first 20 games, would have a shot at the playoffs by the All-Star break, I would never have believed it.  Yet, here we are, the break over, and the Blues, Coyotes and Blue Jackets all have as much chance of making it as every team in the Northwest Division!  Stay tuned for a great finish!

And this just in, we say a sad farewell to legendary Montreal Canadiens and NY Rangers goaltender Gump Worsely, 78.  Worsely was in net when Bobby Orr scored his first NHL goal, and his undefeated playoff run of 1968 is a feat which has been unmatched since.  He will be greatly missed.

Of course, now with the schedule resumed, the stretch run can begin in earnest.  Even though the format isn’t changing for at least one more season, we’re in for some great hockey to lead us into the playoffs.  There’s never a lack of things “puck” to talk about, so keep it right here – hell, add me to your favorites list if you have to.  I don’t mind, really.

 

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