NHL All-Star Draft Will Take Some Getting Used to

Tim Fitzgerald@TimmyFitz76Contributor IJanuary 31, 2011

RALEIGH, NC - JANUARY 30:  Team Lidstrom captain Nicklas Lidstrom #5 of the Detroit Red Wings shakes hands with Team Staal captain Eric Staal #12 of the Carolina Hurricanes after Team Lidstrom defeated Team Staal 11 to 10 in the 58th NHL All-Star Game at RBC Center on January 30, 2011 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

So was I missing what was fun and exciting about the NHL's All-Star draft this past weekend? I heard the draft process and idea as a whole were received well.

Maybe it will grow on me if the NHL uses the draft format to select sides from the pool of All-Stars again.  But as of right now, I'm not feeling it.

If the players really liked it, okay, that’s cool.  I'm happy they did.  Not that hockey players are a hard bunch to please.

One of my favorite players growing up was Brendan Shanahan, and he spearheaded the concept as a way to make it fun for the players.  But he also said it was a way to connect with the fans in that it was like a fantasy draft.

I don’t know about you, but most of my fantasy drafts involve the drafters being hammered half way through, one or two managers set to auto and one guy who has no idea what he's doing.  And I cut at least a third of my team by the end of the season.  So it didn't help me identify with a fantasy draft.

I wondered if the strategy of the captains was supposed to appeal to us? We were told part of the fun was it would be like picking teams in a pick-up game. Well that pick-up game, schoolyard process kinda sucks. Can’t we shoot for teams?

I heard at least a handful of times as the captains made their selection, “I’m picking my boy," so-and-so. It was like one of my junior high nightmares playing out for... my boy, David Backes, Friday night.

The actual entry drafts of professional sports leagues are often derided for being made-for-TV dramas, pumped up by the network when they’re really nothing more than a televised lottery. Well this draft was literally just made for TV, and not especially good TV.

The interviewer James Duthie was really quite awful. He was campy, cheesy, forced jokes, tried too hard to be cool with the players, and was somewhat insulting at times rather than engaged in humorous, hockey banter.  Players tried to avoid him like I avoided my aunt Donna at holiday gatherings.  Duthie's interview style actually reminds me quite a bit of her now that I think about it.

Even what appeal the draft had for viewers didn't carry over into the game for me. I of course rooted for my lone St. Louis Blue and cheered his three assists, but it’s still nice to root for my conference, country or continent. Hard to feel any pride for Team Staal, and it felt weird telling the non-hockey savvy but interested fans, "The blue team won."

And yes, I do at least passively watch the game. Open-ice, end-to-end hockey is still entertaining.

In the end, I hope the players did have a lot of fun with the addition of the draft. They deserve it. Hockey is a tough sport, and anything that adds a little something extra for them at the break is a nice touch.

But as a fan and viewer, the draft just seemed lame, and a lot like a bad reality show. To paraphrase Rick James according to comedian Dave Chappelle, “I wish I had more hands, so I could give that draft, four thumbs down.”