There has been a lot of talk about the NHL All-Star game this year thanks to the new fantasy draft concept, but that doesn't mean we are about to see anything different once the festivities kick off next week.
There are still too many problems with the entire process and it's hard to get truly excited about All-Star weekend.
People can put eyes and a mouth on a rock and try to convince their kids that it is a pet, but at the end of the day it is still a rock. Like a movie with a good marketing campaign, the NHL All-Star weekend can be hyped into something it isn't, but we'll collectively feel ripped off after the first scene.
Let's take a look at the top five problems with the upcoming event..
The first problem with the NHL All-Star game is how the players are selected. As it stands now, a handful of players are voted in by the fans, while the rest is filled out by the league.
This method is supposed to satisfy the fans by giving them the illusion that their participation matters. However, all this does is give fans the ability to produce a popularity contest among the a controlled list of options.
Yet, even more problematic is how the rest of the players are selected. This year's crop sparked a lot of debate when the likes of Ales Hemsky and Mike Green were included at the expense of many other more deserving players.
One could argue that this is good for the game as public discourse generates interest, but not when it comes at the expense of the game itself. If we are to put up with such a silly event, the very least they could do is select the proper people.
I suggest that they adopt the NFL way of doing things and give the fans, coaches, and players an equal 33 percent share in the process. This would spread the responsibility around enough to satisfy everybody.
Another significant problem with the All-Star game is behind-the-doors way of determining who can/want to play in the game. It became rather obvious that certain players (hello Henrik Zetterberg) were notified before the roster announcement and given the option to participate or not.
Why does this have to be a secret black-ops process? The NHL is a physical sport much like the NFL and it is completely understandable if players would rather rest up and heal rather than participate at less than 100 percent.
NFL players give BS reasons for dropping out every year and no one even bats an eye. This is the purpose of alternates. Some might say this would jeopardize the integrity of the event, but let's get real: We are talking about a game that nobody cares about (small children and advertisers aside).
Going forward the league should just name all the initial choices and if players want to take a pass then let them do so.
Jarome Iginla recently dropped out due to family matters, but even if he didn't have a legitimate reason would anyone have a problem with him giving the opportunity to someone else?
For many years the NHL All-Star Game was something that was tailored to corporate advertisers. Over time it began to resemble a convention more than a sports event. However that could all be changing as the Winter Classic has quickly rose to national prominence.
The most recent edition of the Classic was moved to prime-time due to weather concerns and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Ratings were great and there is now a debate about whether or not it should continue to be played as a night game.
What is easily overlooked in all of this is that this new found attention for the Classic might come at the expense of the NHL All-Star game. Chances are that the real advertising dollars will be committed to the Classic in the coming years and might render the All-Star game utterly irrelevant.
I will concede that the new fantasy draft is a cool concept conjured up by Brendan Shanahan, but does it equate to anything more than a novelty act?
Put up your hand if you are looking forward to the draft more than the game itself. If you raised your hand like I did, then there is clearly something wrong with this picture.
Who will be picked first? Last? Will teams be drafted based on personal relationships, talent, country, or team and conference?
These are the only questions I have heading into the event and it seems like the odds-makers agree with me. Right now you can go on Bodog.com and wager on some of these prop bets.
I know I'm not alone when I say they shouldn't even play the game at all. What exactly is the reason we need to have this event? We didn't have one last year due to the Olympics, but did anybody notice? Are there fans out there that can't wait to see the game because they've been deprived of the spectacle for two years?
The much better option is to name the all-star selections to give them their due for a great season, but we don't need to see them cruising around the ice mocking the game to verify that they are indeed all-stars.
All-star games in all the major sports are becoming more and more irrelevant every year. It's about time we scrap the whole thing so we can give the stars of the game a much needed rest. We all saw the toll the schedule takes on the players in the HBO series 24/7, so the least the league could do is allow them a break in the action.
The fact that Sydney Crosby felt obliged to show up during the event a few years ago despite the fact that he was out with an injury goes to show you who this event is really for.