NHL All-Star Voting Conspiracy Brain Freeze

Aleksander BeauboisCorrespondent IDecember 12, 2008

I must start with stating that I am a new member of BleacherReport.com and excited about it. So I ventured in to see what sort of quality I could expect from the site. I found Alan Bass, and seeing as he is the top rated reporter on all matters NHL, I gave him a glance. What I found amazed me, and I recommend his article to everyone.

What fascinated me most is his wittiness. Because either Alan has an incredibly vivid imagination and terrific sense of humour or he is devoid of any common, or hockey, sense altogether.

His clever "Voter Gate" is all pun but no logic. I commented on this fact directly on his article, yet I feel the need to elaborate... 

Firstly, Alan implies an NHL-led conspiracy is being carried out from the depths of Gary Bettman's basement, which is seeking to reverse the world order by throwing in as many Montreal Canadiens onto the starting All-Star lineup as possible. Stay tuned for next week when Alan reports that Steve Begin, Maxim Lapierre, and Tom Kostopoulos will be starting as well, only for the West...

So, Alan believes that this is an effort to, "be sure a sellout occurs at the game."

Now, I responded to Alan earlier about the state of affairs in Montreal since clearly he has no real concept of Montreal's hockey scene. Montreal sells out 21,273 seats game in, game out. For years. It also sells out its entire open team practice.

No, not one or two thousand, but the full 21,273 seats for when the team is on the ice on select days and the Bell Center is made available to the public. Empty spots will not be an issue; this isn't Sunrise, FA. But if I’m wrong and we’re still short, we'll ask Alan to bring up a car load of Flyers supporters. 

On to point B. The fraud is meant, "to pump Montreal up about the game." Brilliant. Montreal is the Mecca of hockey. And only Toronto, sadly, can compete with Montreal in terms of not only hockey passion but media coverage. Ask any player or person in the know.

To boot, Montreal lacks any other real major sporting franchise that would deflect away media attention. The Habs are on non-stop radio and TV coverage. In English and in French. There is nothing left to be pumped up by, only the playoffs.

Ultimately, his last point is the least ridiculous, though no less surprising, namely the aim of seeking "to maximize sales of All-Star gear." So, essentially, Alan wants us to believe that Bettman is running a fraudulent scheme that will enable him to sell NHL replica jerseys...

Only thing is, Montreal already has so many vintage Centennial jerseys being unveiled this year, that they are sure to generate greater interest amongst Montreal fans than the potential All Star ones.

But I understand the discontent—however confused it may be. Alan is upset that Jeff Carter won't be receiving many votes. A fact that certainly is unfair given his spectacular season thus far. I, for one, can't see the justice in it. Unfortunately, there is little justice in the popularity contest that is the NHL All-Star Game.

Otherwise Niedermayer wouldn't have played in last year's game, which essentially was his "welcome-back-out-of-retirement" party. The "Game" however, remains as much a reward for the preceding season as for the current one. Kovalev should definitely have been in on last year's festivities, but not this year. Examples of similar cases are not uncommon.

Where I again do have issue is Alan criticizing Komisarek's appearance on the ballot—because he doesn't have high production totals. Indeed he doesn't and most likely never will, but that is a fact that has little to do with Komisarek being a bona fide All Star. Hate to break it to you.

Price doesn't make Alan happy either, labeling him "terrible." Now, indeed, Price certainly has serious opponents in the other goaltender nominations, perhaps who are more deserving, yet the bitter accusations of "terrible" are somewhat strong for a goalie with the second highest number of wins in the Eastern Conference.

But let us leave personal opinions about players aside and return to the great "Conspiracy." The fact that the numbers in the vote are skewed is an obvious one. But surely Alan didn't write an entire article simply to show us that?

Why, the simple equation 600,000 > 200,000 seems to do the job just as nicely. No, the essence of the article is this fantastic fraud that Alan and Harry Potter have magically uncovered.

Yes, the numbers are pumped, artificially no doubt. But it is no conspiracy. The reason why there are six Canadiens on the ballot is partially in honour of the Canadiens Centennial season.

That's why the Habs All-time roster is available in video games and other teams aren't—not because all the EA game programmers are all in Bettman's basement, too, seeking to manipulate the vulnerable minds of gamers across the world in an effort to sell more jerseys...

The reason behind the bloated numbers is automated ballot-stuffing, or looping, which has computer generated casting simulated to vote for selected players. But it isn't a city-wide phenomenon. It’s not done by the league or a network of conspiring Canadiens supporters. Clearly not everyone is doing it, otherwise the tallies would be in the millions. In fact, it isn't even reserved to Montreal for that matter.

As Alan pointed out himself, Pittsburgh is in on the gig, too. Only worse! Sure Crosby and Malkin deserve to be there—no question. (Though are they really that far up and beyond Ovechkin, Semin, Vanek?) It's worse because the two defensemen directly behind Markov and Komisarek, are Whitney and Gonchar! Two players who have not played this season!

Is the voting system ridiculous? Absolutely. Is it embarrassing? Of course. That's the reason why I haven't cast my vote yet because I would be ashamed to see all six Habs as starters. Not because that they are undeserving, but that there are others who are more so.

And the omission would be glaring. But is it a conspiracy? No. Not anymore so than a computer virus is. It’s done by the same tech savvy people who have nothing better to do with their laptops. Only in this case, they appear to be hockey fans as well.

So the next time you see or read something questionable, don’t just go with the flow; put an end to it.


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