They Botched the All-Star Starters, But the NHL Got the Reserves Right, Mostly

Reed KaufmanCorrespondent IJanuary 21, 2009

Since the commencement of fan voting for the 2009 NHL All-Star Game in Montreal, there has been non-stop debate about the system in place for fan voting to determine the starting six for each Conference.

And there should be.

Many have speculated that the starters for the "Match des Etoiles" are a result of automated voting systems created by die-hard fans to ensure that the representatives from their team would be lining up for the opening draw this Saturday.

I personally think that because the NHL is determined to have a representative from each team, they shouldn't allow fans to be able to text in and vote for all the nominees from their favorite team with one text message. I don't know for sure if that led to this problem, but it could not have helped.

The starters aside, I'd like to spark discussion about the reserves.

Even though the distribution is spread out amongst all teams, the talent representation is pretty solid.

Based on numbers alone, the only questionable admissions are:

Milan Hedjuk
Keith Tkachuk
Mike Modano
Dustin Brown
Eric Staal

And last but certainly not least,

Stephane Robidas

The main omissions are, of course:

Phil Kessel
Mike Richards
Patrick Elias
Mikko Koivu
Daniel Sedin
Marian Hossa
Mike Green
Dennis Wideman
Brian Rafalski
Chris Pronger

Again, the reason that these individuals were left off was due to having every team represented, and I'm OK with that.

As a Kings fan, I am moderately more interested in the game having Dustin Brown involved.

As an NHL fan, I am disappointed that Phil Kessel, one of the best stories in the NHL this year, won't be given the opportunity to shine.

But moreover, as a man with common sense, I'm angered that a near point-per-game defensemen in Mike Green isn't on the roster.

Petty arguments aside, I do have a piece of constructive criticism for the NHL.

The NHL last year unveiled its answer to the NBA Slam Dunk Competition: The NHL Fan Fav Breakaway Challenge. Last year, I'm fairly certain they didn't explain to anyone what it was about- an opportunity to show of your most fancily creative moves before taking a shot on net. Only Alexander Ovechkin showcased the type of creativity everyone was hoping for, and the NHL is even using it to promote this year's event.

This year, they are doing it right. Either they have informed the players what is to be expected, or the players have simply taken the hand-off from Ovechkin and figured it out for themselves.

Either way, the NHL is pushing it pretty hard.

This is exactly the type of youth-movement directed marketing the NHL is succeeding in.

My only problem with all of this is that they failed to include they only player that I have seen actually pull of something of this magnitude regularly in actual shootout action that decides which team gets the extra point.

Mike Ribiero.

It pains me to write this because one of these that he scored on was against the Kings, in a game which I was in attendance, and the taunted the crowd afterwards. I despise the guy.

Still, he belongs in this event as much, if not more-so, than any of the other competitors.

Need more evidence? Click here.

The only question is how to get him in this thing.

I can't make any logical argument other than the fact that he has eight more points than Mike Modano to say that he deserves to be in the game more than him. Modano is truly one of the legends of a game, and a real class act, which clearly Ribiero is not.

But when the opportunity came to slide in a Western replacement for Pavel Datsyuk, they looked to Patrick Marleau.

Again, I cannot condemn this selection over Ribiero.

But since there are, for some odd reason, only five shooters in this breakaway competition, the NHL should have taken this opportunity to add Ribiero to the roster and have him jump into this event.

Instead, they let Stephane Robidas replace Nicklas Lidstrom (are these Red Wings upset that the Ducks overtook their starting spots or what?) instead of Brian Rafalski who is third among all defensemen in points, or even Chris Pronger.

Does the selection have anything to do with the fact that Robidas is a Quebec native?

The bottom line is that the NHL rightfully is trying to improve their All-Star weekend. It is a showcase of their magnificent athletes, and regularly disappoints from what it could be. Last year's event especially. I pray that relay race is now a thing of the past.

Either way, I look forward to this weekend's events, and will certainly withhold judgement until I see what happens, though I am dreading watching only my third full game of this season on Versus. Ugh. I'll save that for another article.


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