When does fan interaction become a detriment to the game? In any sport, the more fans you get involved, the better for the sport...right?
In the case of the 2008-09 NHL All-Star game, I think the fans went too far, and, in the process, hurt the game. I have attended a couple All-Star games since 2002, and at both was amazed by how thankful the players were to be there. Not just to be in front of the fans, but to be among their peers and be rewarded with a three-day hockey vacation.
Unlike the NFL Pro Bowl, the NBA All-Star Vegas debacle, and the MLB Bud Selig Show, the NHL All-Star game has grown to be a true showcase of the game. We, as fans, are presented with talent (young and old), skills on display, and an ice-level view of the fraternal nature of the NHL.
Most, if not all of these guys like each other. They may go out on game nights looking to beat each other silly, but they really are just having fun.
This year, the All-Star voting system was taken over by many overzealous Montreal fans, putting a few undeserving players in the starting lineup and robbing others of the chance to showcase their talent and love for the game.
Now, before the city of Montreal makes me public enemy No. 1, I'd like to say that the Canadiens are a talented team, but is Mike Komisarek more deserving than the Caps Mike Green? I seriously think not.
Just because the NHL is celebrating 100 years of the Montreal franchise and the game is in Montreal doesn't merit Kovalev and Komisarek even being in the game altogether.
On the West roster, the Blackhawks fans lifted Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to the starting five. They should definitely be on the roster, but starters? Why not start a guy like Mike Modano or Joe Thornton?
In goal, the click-happy Ducks fans vaulted Jean-Sebastian Giguere into the game, when his numbers and poor play this year have made Jonas Hiller a more reliable option in Anaheim. Why not give Evgeni Nabokov the start he deserves (on the best team in the West), and promote rookie Steve Mason, based on the merits of his performance.
Folks, I am a hockey fan first and we should all be (yes, even those who bleed for the Canadiens). The All-Star Game is 100 percent about exposure for the league, and should not be treated as Montreal and Pittsburgh versus Chicago and Anaheim.
Most players and "starters" earned a spot, but let's stop the "click-away" fan voting and allow for a more engaging system whereby sports writers or a coaches poll fills out half of the roster, followed by pure statistics opening the door for the reserves. In the realm of goalies, the top three in each conference based on wins, GAA, and save percentage (in aggregate) should get the nod.
Let's enjoy the game, send the best to the mid-season stage, and reward those that live for the game.