NHL All-Star Game 2012: Were the Chicago Blackhawks Victims of Ballot Stuffing?
Last season the Chicago Blackhawks sent four players to the NHL All-Star game. Two of those four—Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith—were named starters. Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane were selected as reserves in the game.
This season, none of the Hawks were voted into the starting lineup.
After last season finishing second among forwards to Sidney Crosby, Toews finished eighth. Duncan Keith also finished eighth after also finishing second among defensemen.
This year was very different.
The hosting Ottawa Senators dominated the fan voting. They have four of the six starters—including all three forwards. They nearly added a fifth, but their second defensemen finished third in the voting.
The Blackhawks could easily have four or five All-Stars again this year's game, which makes it all the more crazy that a sixth-place team in the Eastern Conference already has four.
Marian Hossa is in the Top 10 in total points—while Toews, Kane and Sharp are all in the Top 20. Toews is tied for second in goals scored while Kane is ninth in assists.
Also, don't forget former Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith—who even after a subpar season last yea—is still one of the best blue liners in the league.
What really shows ballot stuffing was the combination of Ottawa with Toronto. If it weren’t for Tim Thomas, the two cities would have locked up all six starters. Toronto's Dion Phaneuf is the other starter on the defense, while their goalie finished second behind Thomas.
Some people may point out that Pittsburgh and Chicago supplied all six starters in last year’s game. My counter argument to that is that both those teams recently hoisted the cup and are full of star players.
Like I said, Ottawa is currently sixth in the East while Toronto is tied for ninth.
This is like Yao Ming being voted into the NBA All-Star game every year as a starter—even if he was hurt. Crosby wasn't able to even pull that off, and he is arguably the best player in the game.
Toews didn't even receive half as many votes at Phil Kessel—who finished fifth in voting of the forwards. The same is true for Duncan Keith.
I know hockey is Canada's game, but having so many players named starters that—let's be honest—are not household names only hurts the All-Star game. This will probably lead to less players who are very deserving make it from middle of the road or bad teams.
Not one starter is from the Western Conference.
Steven Stamkos and Alex Oveckin didn't even finish in the Top 15 of voting.
Commissioner Gary Bettman should look into this, because in the long run this will end up hurting the game. The All-Star game helps promote stars, and looking at the voting it became something very different.
Corey Crawford was unable to have the same success as his teammate Patrick Sharp did last season. Sharp wasn't on the ballot, but received a lot of write-in support and eventually made the team and earned the game's MVP. Crawford was able to finish only 13th among goalies.
Two former Hawks were able to get enough support to make the Top 20 in voting at their position. Brian Campbell and Dustin Byfuglien finished 20th and 16th, respectively. Someone who was surprisingly not on the list was former goaltender Antti Niemi—who has 17 wins and a GAA of 2.29.
I guess people in San Jose just don't like to support their team.
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