All-Star Weekend is here once again, coming to us from hockey-mad St-Paul this
year. My list of positives is short for this weekend, but one good thing
worth mentioning is the Wild have averaged over 18 500 fans this year (7th
out of 30 teams), and are proving hockey should never have left Minnesota.
The city is a great host for the event, and I'm sure the fans will pack the Xcel
Energy Centre to its rafters.
purpose of this game has never quite been explained. What bothers me most
is commissioner Gary Bettman makes his little speech every year on how great the game is,
how great the weekend is, how great the fans are, and fails to see the obvious.
Why not use the weekend as a way to showcase the sport ? Hockey has to be
the only sport where the All-Star game is nothing like what the game is played
like it is during the rest of the season. It's almost like it's the NHL's way of
reminding us how great the game could be if skilled players were allowed to play
the game without risking impalement and decapitation every night. Sure, this
is my humorous view of the state of the game, but the fans aren't without their
own sense of humor.
- the fans way of making sure the All Star game remains a big joke.
This is where the fans drop the ball each and every year and continue to disappoint. Consider the following
results from fan ballots:
- Mike Modano was voted as the starting center for the West.
Modano is going through his worst season, with just 8 goals and 17 assists at
the time he was named to the starting lineup. Even more laughable: his -19
rating. This is the fans' choice as best centre in the West ?
- Finishing 5th in voting for centres in the West is Jason
Allison of the LA Kings with 47 833 votes ( more votes than Pavel Datsyuk, 9th
overall in scoring ). Allison has yet to play a game this year, but is not alone in players with 0 games played getting votes.
Atlanta's Dany Heatley managed to garner 38 158 votes for crashing his car, I
The fans aren't the only ones with suspicious
nominations. The NHL managed to nominate a few players whose All Star
status is well behind them:
- Keith Primeau. Total goals this season: 6. Total
points: 21, ranking him 9th on a Philadelphia Flyers team behind guys like Handzus, LeClair,
Amonte & Gagné, who are all getting some time off this weekend. Sure, Primeau has been
praised for his defensive role this year, but is defense really what we are
looking for in an All-Star game ?
- Mark Messier. Another player who has yet to crack 30
points this season. I know he just became the NHL's 2nd scorer of all
time, but let's face it, the bulk of those points were amassed years ago.
- Filip Kuba. I know the host team needs representation,
and Minny have that in Dwayne Roloson, so can someone explain this
addition ? A defenseman with a +/- rating of -12 ( the worst on his team and only
player for the Wild to post double-digits in that category ). Offensive
output of 5 goals, 19 points will get you to the All-Star game now ?
Sometimes, the NHL gets it right, and there are
positives to this weekend. A few players going for the first time
deserve the recognition for their efforts this season. Players like
Shane Doan, Adrian Aucoin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Sheldon Souray, Roberto Luongo, Glen
Murray, Rick Nash, Dwayne Roloson, Thomas Vokoun, have all had career seasons
truly define what an All-Star should be. A special tip of my hat goes to Gary
Roberts, a constant competitor whose career almost ended with a neck injury a
few years ago. This player should win the Masterton trophy every year for
what he's done, and how he still continues to show up night in and night out at 37 years of
Finally, whether the All-Star Game is a way to reward
fans or a chance to get new ones, shouldn't all teams be represented ?
This is another tweak the NHL has managed to sneak in without much attention.
Although the teams who aren't represented are the ones struggling most,
aren't Edmonton, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago and Anaheim fans the
most deserving of some recognition for standing behind their respective
teams in hard times ?
Enjoy the game.