Get rid of the all-star game. It’s meaningless as an honour for players.
A look at the roster announced Tuesday is all you need to know that the same issues for the players are still there: Not all the best players are at the game.
Case in point: The Detroit Red Wings.
They are one of the best teams in the National Hockey League and how many of its players are on the list? One. Niklas Lidstrom. What, no Henrik Zetterberg?
Factor in the league’s desire to have representation from every team – be it in the main game or with the rookies – and yet again fans are stuck with guys who don’t deserve to be there.
Are Edmonton’s Ales Hemsky and New Jersey’s Patrik Elias all-stars? They have all-star abilities, but they don’t deserve to be in Raleigh based on this season. Hemsky has been out a month, and Elias has nine goals in 41 games. And forget about a young player going to represent the Devils; Lou Lamoriello hates sending young players to the game.
And if you think the rosters are questionable now, just wait until a week before the game when half a dozen or so wind up with injuries and the league scrambles to find replacements.
Would you go when your wife and kids are looking forward to that non-refundable trip to Hawaii? Would you be able to convince them to go to Raleigh instead?
Part of the problem is the players are overexposed. With all the games on TV, there isn’t as much interest in seeing two rival players wearing the same uniform. When I was a kid, it was intriguing for me to see Leafs captain Darryl Sittler line up beside Flyer captain Bobby Clarke, after they had spent most of the season trying to kill each other.
The only intrigue with this year’s game is whether Daniel and Henrik will play on opposite teams. And do you really think the NHL is going to miss that opportunity to split them up? It has the air of a “reality” show, where everything is actually scripted.
I can appreciate the effort the league and Players’ Association to find some way to spice up the game, but I hope this is the last of any kind of all-star game.
The beauty is the league already has a better alternative: outdoor games. For 24 American teams they have the Winter Classic, which they can play every year because there are enough teams to create a decent rotation. For the six Canadian teams there is the Heritage Classic, which will be played Feb. 20 in Calgary. That game should only be played every couple of years, so that Canadian teams aren’t overly taxed in doing it.
TV loves the outdoor games, sponsors love them, and most important of all, the two points matter. The players play hard.
Just ask Sidney Crosby and David Steckel.