A Joke with No Laughter: The 2009 NHL All-Star Game

Cable BollenbacherContributor IJanuary 26, 2009

The NHL All-Star Game is an event that I usually look forward to.

I enjoy the showcase of skills and sportsmanship that are all part of the ASG package.

With the game being hosted by one of hockey’s most prominent cities, I assumed that the event would be even more exciting.

However, as a Red Wings fan, I was quite disgusted by the fiasco that this past weekend turned into.

First of all, the fan voting system is ridiculous. It’s the ALL-STAR GAME, not the CHOOSE YOUR FAVORITE PLAYER GAME.

Yes, I voted for several Detroit players, and they are some of my favorite players—but the point is they deserved to be playing in a game that consists of the league’s best.

Henrik Zetterberg and Marian Hossa are superstars and were not voted into the game. Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom, two of the game’s best, were not even in the starting lineup.

I have been on forums for several opposing teams, and the common topic was to vote the Red Wings out of the game, something easily feasible due to the allowance of multiple voting. Fans with nothing better to do can just vote repeatedly until they get what they want.

Additionally, websites can be manipulated. For example, Rick Astley was recently named the top musical act of all time by an MTV fan poll.  This was a direct result of someone hacking the site so that every few seconds a person spent on the website counted as a vote for Astley. While this is humorous, it shows that an average fan at a computer shouldn’t have the power to determine the game’s lineup.

Yes, I am biased in favor of the Wings, but they were not the only team that I felt was cheated by the voting system. The San Jose Sharks, the number-one team in the conference, also were held to only two players on the All-Star team. While the voting system is quite frustrating alone, my mine complaint follows a much different vein.

Datsyuk and Lidstrom, the two Detroit representatives happened to have injuries prior to the ASG. Lidstrom has had tendinitis problems for several seasons and has been increasingly bothered by them.

Datsyuk left Detroit’s last game with mid-body injury. The outcome of that game was still in question, so it seems highly unlikely that Detroit would sit out their lead scorer simply so he could skip the ASG.

So what is the consequence of these two players choosing to rest instead of attending the ASG so that they may better serve their team down the stretch?

They get suspended.

These are two players that have been stellar ambassadors for the game over the years. Datsyuk has won the Lady Byng award for sportsmanship several times. This isn’t a couple of thugs who are prone to behavior issues. Their only crime is not attending an EXTRA game. And for that they are suspended, giving Detroit a major handicap for their next game.

This case of adding injury to insult in regards to the Red Wings is the main reason that I also chose to sit out this year’s All-Star Game.

The league needs to wise up and not resort to childishness. The classic “you’re not invited to my birthday party” technique seems to be the best that the league’s midget commissioner can come up with. You don’t show up for Bettman the dwarf, and he doesn’t let you show up for your team.

With all due respect to the game of hockey itself, the NHL screwed up this time. Here’s to 2010!