In the immortal words of Homer Simpson, "When will people learn? Democracy doesn't work!" While democracy works better than any other system humans have cobbled together to form governments, it's a miserable way to pick an NHL All-Star team.
The NHL first gave the vote to the fans in 1985 and then after a flurry of ballot stuffing took it away. Fan voting for NHL all-stars soon returned. The inability of that system to even attempt to accurately assess who the best NHL players are for the first half of the season has always been painfully evident.
Thirty teams in the league make it unlikely that most NHL fans have even seen all the players play a complete game. Generally, the NHL ballot is missing some of the best players in the league every year. A created ballot just can't keep up with what's happening in the league in real time nor include all the players who deserve consideration.
This year, the fans were only required to put together one league-wide first All-Star team. This has the virtue of limiting their input but also seems to attract the stuffers in droves.
The fans chose three centers, two defenseman and a goalie from the Piittsburgh Penguins and the Chicago Black Hawks. Apparently the NHL feels that making the distinction between centers and wingers is too complex for NHL fans.
The fans chose Sidney Crosby as first line center and he would be first line center using any system. They took Jonathon Toews another center and Duncan Keith a defenseman from the Chicago Blackhawks. They're both great complete players and both deserve consideration, but neither should be on the first line of a league-wide All-Star team.
Kris Letang a defenseman, Evgeni Malkin another center and Marc-Andre Fleury the goaltender from the Pittsburgh Penguins were chosen to fill out the first line All-Star team.
Letang has had a great offensive year filling in for the departed Sergei Gonchar. He has offensive skills and he's playing on a power play with Crosby and Malkin. In some worlds he might be a second team Eastern All-Star.
Fluery had a miserable start but has rebounded and is probably right now the third or fourth best goalie in the East. That's good but that doesn't make him close to first team All-Star in the entire league.
Evgeni is another great player who is having a sub-par offensive year. He has 34 points in 38 games. He has fewer points than Kris Letang. He's the ninth leading scoring center in the East this year. If he wasn't voted, on the talented Malkin would be unlikely to make the NHL Eastern Conference All-Star team at all.
Generally, in the past, this midway all-star team has rewarded players with offensive numbers. It's a game about flash and skill. Jonathon Toews or Mike Richards may be your top center when you're trying to win a tournament or a Stanley Cup, but the midseason All-Star game is about something else.
This is my attempt to put together the players who would have made "my" first and second teams in the Eastern and Western Conference. It is not rocket science and is mostly done from offensive numbers.
This is my attempt to honour the NHLers who have had a great first half in the 2010-11 season.