As long as there are NHL All-Star Games, there will be theories on how to make them better.
People complain about everything from the fact there’s no hitting to the way the players who don’t hit each other are selected to be in the contest.
To be honest, I’m not quite sure what some people expect this game to be. Is it really realistic to ask the best players in the world, who already participate in a grueling 82-game NHL schedule, to get a real hate on for each other during this mid-season exhibition game? Hockey players, it seems, are not like the rap community; there’s no natural East versus West rivalry going on.
Ultimately, this is a game played for fun by incredibly skilled players. It’s about having a little extra room out there to try moves you’d be benched for even thinking of in a regular season game.
I already know Alex Ovechkin can play a physical game; do we really need to see him prove it by running over Patrick Kane in the All-Star Game? Wouldn’t you rather see ‘Ovie’ bust out some maneuver that separates somebody from his jock rather than trying to separate somebody’s shoulder?
As for the fan voting that led to some players starting the game who clearly don’t deserve to based on statistics (I’m looking at you Mike Komisarek and Jean-Sebastien Giguere), I’m once again compelled to believe the existing system is just fine given what this game is about.
There’s no denying fan voting on the Internet has led to some questionable selections of players for starting positions. But this game is for the fans, so why shouldn’t they have a big say in who gets selected to the contest?
Further to that, the NHL is always looking for different ways to engage its paying customers and allowing them to vote for their favorite stars is a natural method of doing so.
If there’s one thing the league could look at, it’s the rule that stipulates each team must have one representative in the game.
Other than that, let’s just all relax and enjoy the glorified pond hockey.
This column also appears in the Montreal Metro newspaper.
Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey’s Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears Fridays.
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