NHL's All-Star Voting Is a Joke

Andy Bensch@@AndyBenschSenior Writer IJanuary 4, 2009

Most North American Sports fans agree on the top four major sports in the region. They are (in no particular order) football, basketball, baseball, and hockey.

Despite the fact that I put the four in no particular order, it came out as the exact order in which I would rank these sports in terms of the quality of the league's commissioner.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has gotten so many things right since taking over from Paul Tagliabue in 2006. Whenever there is a rule that comes into question, he has changed it to the majority of the fan bases' liking. 

David Stern of the NBA hasn't really made the best decisions of late. In a crucial game during a playoff series, he suspended a couple valuable players for a decisive game because they went too far from the bench onto the court to try and help their teammate who had been fragrantly fouled. 

The rule in itself was a seemingly odd rule, and Stern had the power not to dish out punishment. However, instead of letting the series be won by the players, he gave one team an unfair advantage by suspending two talented players of the opposing team. 

Bud Selig handled the Barry Bonds home-run chase with absolute bizarre behavior and has seemed to lose his step, so I rank him third in my list of commissioners.

That being said, neither of the aforementioned commissioners comes close to being as bad as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. The man just flat out does not know how to run a professional sporting league. 

He fails to realize that his league's current TV contract with the Versus channel is diminishing its ability to attract a large TV audience. Additionally, the suspensions he gives out almost never end in an appropriate length for the infraction the player commits.  

And, finally, the way his league decides the starters for the All-Star game is absolutely dumb. Not only do players who have big names but are having down years still make the starting lineup, but there is no variety in the starting lineups.

For example, the Eastern Conference starting lineup has four Montreal Canadiens. A starting lineup in an NHL game only has six starting positions and Montreal is taking up two-thirds of that lineup. The only reason this is the case is because Montreal was on of the few teams that spent extra time hyping up the All-Star game and getting their fans out to vote.

The system is absolutely ludicrous. A couple of years ago, Vancouver Canucks fans started a website to get an unknown defensman into the All-Star game by voting him into the starting lineup. 

Rory Fitzpatrick had between one and four points on the season and was a nobody who nearly cracked the All-Star game roster. It would have been a disgrace to the game for a non-All-Star quality player to be credited with an All-Star game appearance.

As for the lineups, the Eastern Conference has forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin from the Pittsburgh Penguins to go along with four Montreal Canadiens. Alexei Kovalev joins Crosby and Malkin to round out the starting forwards. 

However, Kovalev is another player who most likely wouldn't make the game if he wasn't voted in as a starter. He only has 28 points on the season. Contrast that to one of the forwards he will be facing in the West, Ryan Getzlaf, has 29 assists. 

The starting defenseman for the East are Montreal teammates Andrei Markov and Mike Komisarek.

Are you kidding me?

Even though Markov is a respectable choice, amounting 27 points from the blue-line so far this season, his counterpart Komisarek has only two points on the season! He has one goal and one assist! Hello? Where is Zdeno Chara? Chara is on the East-leading Boston Bruins and has put up 22 points on the season.

Finally we get to the East starting goaltender, another Montreal Canadien, Carey Price. Price is a respectable choice considering his numbers are near the top of all Eastern Conference goalies, but Boston's Tim Thomas has more wins, more shutouts, and a better GAA, and SV percentage.

Now the Western Conference lineup is just plain silly.  Even though all three starting forwards are deserving of All-Star bids. Both Chicago's Jonathan Toews and Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf are pure centers. They both play the same position. 

This happens because the voting is the top three forwards start the game instead of the top player at each position. Fans around the league would much rather see a starting line in the All-Star game with the top left-wing, center, and right-wing of that conference in the game.

Toews' teammate in Chicago, right wing Patrick Kane, rounds out the West's starting forwards.

On the blue line for the West, we once again have a big-name player who isn't exactly having a career year. Scott Niedermayer, arguably of the greatest defensemen to play the game, has only 20 points on the year and a minus-2 plus-minus while San Jose Shark Dan Boyle has 31 points and a plus-6 rating. 

As for the Ducks' goaltender J.S. Giguere starting the All-Star game for the West, well let's just say that 12 Western Conference goaltenders are ranked higher than Giguere on Yahoo! fantasy sports. Granted, some of those goalies have only played a few games and their stats can be misleading. But one of those 12 is Giguere's backup, Jonas Hiller.

If that doesn't convince you Giguere shouldn't be the starter, straight-up stats of goalies who have played just as many games as the Ducks goalie show he doesn't deserve to start the All-Star game. 

Sharks netminder Evgeni Nabokov has 10 more wins, a 2.44 GAA compared to Giguere's 2.96, their save percentage is about equal and their shutouts are equal. Columbus' rookie standout Steve Mason has two more wins than Giguere, a GAA that is a full goal lower, a significantly higher save percentage, and three more shutouts.

Now, I'm not advocating to take away the fans' right to vote for the starters, but, at the very least, Bettman should alter the format.

The Changes I would make would be as follows:

1. Vote by position: LW, C, RW, D, D, G.

2. Each team can only have one LW, C, and RW in the running for the starting spots. For example, the Sharks would have Marleau, Thornton, and Setoguchi in the running but nobody else.

3. Each team can only have two defensemen in the running for the starting spots. For example, the Ducks would have Niedermayer and Pronger but no other Duck defensman could receive votes.

4. With the goalies, only the top three goalies in terms of GAA, who have also played the majority of their team's games, should be in the running to start the All-Star game between the pipes.

Making these changes, or changes similar to these, would take away the malfunctions of the current voting system.


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