BROSSARD, Que. – The Montreal Canadiens say they will be the first NHL team to have fans pick the three stars of their games online or by mobile phone.
The new system will be in place for the team’s regular season home opener Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Beginning Wednesday, fans can download a free “app” at bell.ca/canadiens that provides team news and statistics and allows fans to vote for the three stars of each game.
The stars were previously picked by the television broadcasters.
Team vice-president Ray Lalonde said that based on the number of fans who vote for the player of the game on the RDS website they expect between 5,000 and 10,000 votes per game, with more for the most important games.
Lalonde said there are measures in place to prevent awkward selections. They will automatically hand the first star to a player who scores in overtime, for instance.
”Fans in Montreal are knowledgeable and critical,” he said. ”There’s no reason to believe that if (Buffalo goaltender) Ryan Miller shuts us out that he will not be the first star.
”You have to have faith in your fans to voice their opinions.”
Players will accumulate votes over the season that will be used to determine the Molson Cup winner as the team’s player of the year, he said.
Lalonde expects other teams, particularly in Canada, to have a similar system in place in the near future.
The NHL is encouraging teams to boost fan involvement through the Internet and social media. Lalonde boasts that the Canadiens lead the league with 470,000 Facebook ”friends” and 72,000 followers on Twitter.
The team will also produce a weekly 30-minute show on one of its players that will be available through Bell on mobile, television and online in November and December.