Last week, the NHL released its All-Star Game fan balloting results and four of the six starters are members of the Ottawa Senators. You can see who they are and their exact vote totals by clicking here. It’s obvious from the results that the voting was based more on organizers from the host city (Ottawa) promoting its own players to its citizens than anything else.
Alison: Before I give my opinion on this, I just want to make a disclaimer. The NHL All-Star Game really doesn’t interest me at all. I look for an excuse to get out of watching it because it’s as far from real hockey as you can get. No hitting, no goaltending and no defense? If I wanted a high-scoring game, I’d watch lacrosse. But that’s neither here nor there.
That said, we did agree to talk about the fact that four of the six starters are from Ottawa, so here we go.
After reviewing the statistics for the four Ottawa players that were chosen to be starters, I can see each were chosen for different reasons. For example, Jason Spezza, who leads Ottawa with 42 points, has led the Sens in points in three of the last five seasons. He is on pace for 80 points after dealing with injuries the last two years, which limited him to identical 57-point campaigns.
If he hadn’t been hurt, who knows how he would have done in 2010 and 2011?
Meanwhile, Milan Michalek is sixth in the NHL and first on the Sens with 20 goals. He is on pace for 56 points, his best total since 2008-09, when he was a member of the San Jose Sharks. He could hit the 40-goal mark as well, which would be a career high and his best total since 2006-07, when he had 26 goals for the Sharks.
Daniel Alfredsson is Ottawa’s captain and is nearing the end of his career. He has just one more year left on his contract. His numbers are decent. He is third on the Sens with 33 points.
However, I feel he was chosen more for sentimental reasons. He’s the captain, the face of the Senators franchise. He’s also likely to be one of the All-Star captains.
Lastly, there’s Erik Karlsson. He's a third-year pro and is one of the league’s up-and-coming defensemen. He broke out last year with 45 points, an improvement over his 26-point campaign in 2009-10, and his 41 points this season lead Ottawa and NHL defensemen. This kid will be in Norris Trophy conversation.
Ottawa is on the rebound. The Sens sit fifth in the East with a 22-15-6 record for 50 points. They didn’t make the playoffs last year, and right now, they are in a position to keep playing well and solidify their spot in the standings.
So as far as choice is concerned, I can’t argue with why each player was chosen.
Fans will complain every year about who is in the game and who is not. It’s not like there won’t be opportunities for other talented players to get in. When fans are allowed to vote more than once, of course there will be ballot stuffing.
The NHL could do something about this, but something tells me they won’t. They have more important issues to worry about.
Adam: There’s no need for an excuse not to watch the All-Star game, Alison. I certainly don’t need one. It’s a waste of time as far I’m concerned as well.
However, many fans actually enjoy it. This is why it’s unfortunate that this year’s starters were determined based on which NHL franchise actually cared enough to aggressively market its own players to its fan bases. That contrasts with the fans all over North America who voted on who they feel are the best players, which is what fan voting is suppose to be about.
I already let my feelings be known about this mockery created by Senators fans in detail in an article I wrote when the news initially came down, which you can read here.
It’s just silly that the host city feels it needs to promote the fan balloting aspect of the game to the point where the mayor of Ottawa is encouraging citizens, some of whom don’t even follow the NHL, to vote for the Senators on the ballot. It defeats the purpose of the fans voting on these types of things when they’re voting for the wrong reasons, and believe me, Alison, they voted those four Senators as starters for the wrong reasons.
Do you really think the vast majority of the voters in Ottawa were breaking down Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek's stats? Of course not. If they did, they would have realized that neither player is among the top 60 point producers.
I understand Spezza and Karlsson being All-Stars, but that's not the point. Senators fans would have still voted for them even if they had combined for just 20 points on the season.
With that being said, I didn’t vote because I don’t care about the game, so I really have no right to complain. That’s how the democratic process works. The problem is that too many fans don’t care enough to vote, even if they do enjoy the game.
Based on my observations from living in Vancouver, most Canucks fans probably didn’t care enough to vote either. They’d rather see the team win the Stanley Cup than have Daniel and Henrik Sedin start in the All-Star Game.