Why the NHL All-Star Game Is Worth It

Lisa BoychukSenior Analyst IJanuary 26, 2009

This may not be true of all places, but around here, almost everyone I spoke with finds the NHL All-Star Game is nothing but a big bore. They say it is an overrated event.

Many believing in a cheated Montreal Canadiens voting system.  It is these who are convinced something is wrong when four of the six chosen players for the starting lineup hale from the host city and team.  

However, I have been trying to convince them that it is worthy to watch, and this year's event certainly showed signs of sparking interest for all viewers. Here's why:


The best of the best

There may be some argument against this statement, but when do you really get to see most of the top stars not only play in the same arena, but on the same lines?  The Stanley Cup finals are said to be where you see the best in the league, which is true. However, in the All-Star game you get to see more than just two teams battling for the satisfaction and bragging rights.


A real eye opener

During the Skills Competitions on Saturday night, the elimination shootout was the most entertaining shootout I have ever watched.  I think the participants' coaches thought the same.

Some of the players have either rarely (if ever) been used in a shootout situation. Yet, these players were able to excel. It is possible that some of them did it on purpose.

What better timing to show your skills than when every coach around the league is watching and when it doesn't hurt if you don't score?


A goalie's chance to shine

The goaltenders during the elimination shootout surely had most fun, especially when it was their own teammates trying to score on them.  Even when teams hold practice, this level of excitement just isn't there.

During team practices you don't have nearly 22,000 spectators watching you. 

Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins made some spectacular saves. For all we know, it could have been his way to warn us Habs fans that during the next match up that is what we expect to see from him. 

Even when a goal was allowed, the coaches and players themselves had a good laugh about it. This includes today's All-Star Game between the Eastern and Western Conferences.

Putting hatred aside

There were many examples during the weekend when most feuds were put aside.

This was no more evident than the interaction between Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals during the All Star break. 

When the two teams battle each other in the regular season, the two become enemies. But during the skills competition, they looked like best of friends as Malkin helped Ovechkin put on the silly hat and sunglasses, and fed him Gatorade.

Zdeno Chara also won over a few fans this weekend. When Chara was first announced he was jeered heavily by the fans.  However, after setting the new record for the hardest shot and winning $24,000 for charity, the fans cheered him on.

This was evident for other players during the actual game. The guys who would usually be out there wanting to crush each other were line-mates and assisting on each other's goals.

You would not see that anywhere else.


Bettman means business

Gary Bettman is a strong supporter of the All-Star Weekend.  Bothmembers of the Detroit Red Wings whom were invited to the game—that being Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Lidstrom—decided they would not participate. 

Because they bailed on All-Star weekend, Bettman ordered them to miss the first game the Red Wings play after this All-Star break.

It just goes to show that the NHL itself is in strong support of running such an event.

Like a game of shinny

The actual All-Star Game was played how traditional hockey is supposed to be played. Only one penalty, which was handed out toward the end of the game. There were well over 50 shots a side, and 22 total goals.

It was fast paced and full of smiles.


Hometown hero

Holding the game in the city of Montreal for their 100th anniversary was the best thing that could happened.  It was expected long ago that the fans for this event would be at their best, and they did not let us down. 

Having some of the most successful Canadiens in attendance, and re-living their accomplishments was an inspirational moment for all the players. 

Announcing the players when they were first coming onto the ice was done nicely, as well. I think it was a huge crowd pleaser to save the Habs players until the very end.

More enjoyable still was having the hero of the game be a hometown boy.  Alex Kovalev got two goals in the game and was a shootout hero to break the 11-11 tie. 

Fittingly, he was named the game's MVP.


There could be other reasons added to this list, but what I mentioned about was the key points.  I hope that this All-Star weekend hosted by the Habs will be enough to make the pessimistic fans realize these events are well worth their time.


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