NHL All Star Game Vote: "Pros" vs. "Cons"

Aleksander BeauboisCorrespondent IDecember 13, 2008

Tired of elections? Tired of voting?


US Presidential Elections, Canadian Federal Elections, Quebec Provincial Elections, and now the NHL All Star Game.


The democratic privilege of personal expression should never be disrespected, or the opportunity disregarded—despite the fact that in politics, all too frequently, there is the right to vote, but nobody right to vote for.


So the NHL All Star ballot is a fresh change. Unlike a political ballot, the league offers an abundant selection of proven talent.


The only problem that remains is the method. When you last cast your vote, be it in Canada or the US, when is the last time your pollster inquired when you were done, whether you would like to vote again? And again?


The NHL is not alone in allowing such a phenomenon however. The NBA for one, is no different, but what the NHL does have to worry about is another form of abnormality.


Not long off the Rory Fitzpatrick fiasco, the League has another democratically induced headache. What to do when a less deserving player edges out a more deserving one?


This year’s problem has the Canadiens at centre ice. Literally. Six Montreal Canadiens were up-until-recently the leading vote-getters in their respective positions, and thus the de facto starting line up. Problem is, these aren’t the Habs of the 1950’s. Or the 60’s. Or 70’s.


No less humiliating is the close chase being given by Pittsburgh’s defensive pairing of Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney, neither of whom have played this season. 


While on a larger scale, an all-Canadiens starting six would pay a glorious tribute to the famed franchise, the immediate misrepresentation would be glaring.


To be sure, all six nominations are deserving of a mention. Yet apart from stud D-man Andrei Markov, none of them should be seeing action in the first minute of the game.


The situation cannot be anything but disheartening to other fans from around the league, seeing their stars falling behind in a dubious voting selection. Frustration cannot be absent in the players themselves.


If Alexander Semin can’t see what all the fuss surrounding Crosby is about, then how does he feel to be behind a lackluster Kovalev?


But despairing fans League-wide should know that the air in Montreal is not all jubilant. Montrealers remember well the days of the Canadiens' dynasty, well...century, so the fans are extremely quick to jump and criticize their team in times of underperformance.


And nobody is blind to the oft-average performance that they are witnessing to date in this Centennial Campaign.


Montrealers would be at once happy and ashamed to see such a biased fielding of Koivu, Kovalev, Tanguay, Markov, Komisarek, and Price. It tarnishes the reputation of hockey knowledge, objectivity, and ultimately common sense.


There has been a quiet sigh of relief in the city and the media, now that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have taken the lead, because there is no satisfaction in earning such a vote.


The players themselves certainly feel no different. While they certainly must be hoping to partake in the festivities, they themselves cannot be oblivious to the conspicuous omissions, should they in fact all be on the ice for the playing of the National Anthems.


I wager they would be uncomfortable standing there with their Eastern Conference teammates, the likes of Ovechkin, Semin, Vanek, eyeing them from the bench.


But who is to blame? Certainly not the players. Neither is it a case of a city-wide movement or a League conspiracy. Unfortunately the ‘cons’ have outdone the ‘pros’ in this technology based voting system. The NHL should have its wrists slapped for not having implemented a security system sooner, that would prevent automated spam submissions.


For that is what transpired. As I wrote in an earlier article, “the reason behind the bloated numbers is automated ballot-stuffing, which has computer generated casting simulated to vote for selected players.”


Subsequently, these select individuals have tarnished the voting concept of the Game.


For it’s not only a popularity contest now, it’s an automated one to boot. The dubious votes have potentially disenfranchised not only ‘foreign’ voters, but Montreal ones as well.


Many in Montreal are no longer voicing their support for fear of adding to the unbalance, which only casts a shadow over their own 'Habitants.'


As much as the Habs players benefited at the start, they are now deprived of honest support.


Is it good for the NHL or for Montreal?


Not particularly, but in the end it’s just a black cloud shadowing the sun, not a total eclipse—and no, the sky is not falling.


Ultimately, interest in the All Star Weekend itself won’t waver. After all, it is Montreal, and the ASG will draw hockey fan interest regardless. 


However, the missed step by the League has soiled the game for everybody before the puck was even dropped.


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