The NHL has always been gimmicky. Any fan for longer than a season can see it, especially one who was around before the most recent lockout.
The NHL staff would sell its soul to make some warm climate southern US American believe hockey is by all right important and worth watching while trying not to alienate or lose its true fan base in the North, were there is a white type of substance known as snow.
For those in the South, I know this is a surprise revelation. Being a Texan myself, seeing snow is like seeing big-foot. Get proof quickly.
With the 2012 All-Star game the NHL has again followed its gimmick tricks. The first six were done via All-Star balloting, and while it's nice to see the Ottawa Senators get to represent in front of a home crowd, I'm left feeling like Jean-Luc Picard exclaiming, "WTF is this?!"
Five Senators were chosen, including the rookie team. So, to the casual fan it should seem Ottawa—since after all, it is an All-Star game—is the best team in the NHL and has a New York Yankee-type of roster.
Yet, we find them in the upper half of the pack of the NHL, nothing negative to say exactly, but nothing all together stellar either.
My point? The idea of a partial fan-vote/ NHL choosing concept is utter bull. The NHL in the near future will choose captains, and then they choose teams via a fantasy draft. Sounds cool on paper, but again I'm left feeling like Picard.
The NHL should either choose All-Stars or let the fans decide. This in between business just leaves a roster looking crappy. Sure some of the picks are solid, others not so much. Five Senators versus three league-leading NY Rangers and three second-place Vancouver Canucks seems a stretch.
Has it become that the once true-to-its-name NHL All-Star Game has become the NHL Popularity Game? At least when fans choose, I can somewhat swallow the huge number of Ottawa Senators on the roster.
Anyway, wouldn't the Ottawa fans like to see someone else play other than their hometown heroes?
The All-Star game has become a joke since ditching its East versus West structure. As a youngster watching with my dad, it was interesting seeing division rivals become friends in the name of taking down the other conference. Maybe the NHL doesn't share that sentiment.
Regardless, the 2012 All-Star game confirms two things. It's really a popularity game chosen by Gary Bettman, and it might be as fun as a wet blanket to watch.
I hope it's not, but it sure leaves me missing the old days when being an All-Star meant something.
If Gary Bettman and his NHL staffers wanna keep long-time fans happy and attract new ones, a true, complete fan-vote system is needed. Otherwise, we are left with the Gary Bettman Game.
Ken Armer is a former Bleacher Report Community Leader and Featured Columnist for the Dallas Stars. After a long hiatus and time spent covering NASCAR, Armer has returned to his writing passion of hockey.