Like most sports, the NHL is working hard to make its All-Star Game more interesting to fans. Like most sports, its efforts have failed.
To be be fair, the NHL is at a major disadvantage. The risk of injuries for football and hockey remove the physical aspect of those games that is part of its fan appeal, including my own.
To its credit, no league has been as inventive with its game as the NHL. Earlier in the decade, they switched from the conference format to North America versus the World. This made for interesting situations with teammates being on opposite teams and allowed countrymen from rivals to team up.
Eventually, the league decided the experiment failed and went back to a conference format. Then last year, it again decided that format was not working.
Its idea was almost as inventive as the realignment proposal the NHLPA rejected: Let the captains of each team pick their players like kids in pond hockey.
Unfortunately, this did nothing to engender interest from those who want real hockey. This was evident in my piece examining the 2012 NHL All-Star Game balloting against who should play. That piece focused on those players likely to finish highest at their positions and whether they should start in the All-Star Game.
I thought the top vote-getters from each conference were the starters, and the captains taken from them. Then they in turn picked the rest of their teams.
I will take the mulligan on that.
However, if the game is for the fans, they should pick the starters. I have previously opined that I would rather have the All-Stars be the best players and for their defensive contributions to count, but since the game will not include much defence, fans like me will not watch anyway.
Finally, to compensate for there being so many more fans in the east—the top 11 vote-getters are all from the Eastern Conference and the top 34 from east of the Mississippi River—both the starters and reserves at every position should be comprised of players from the Western Conference.
Since all players in the first article were from the Eastern Conference and I now understand that no one from the Western Conference is guaranteed to start, this piece focuses on those who should start.