Today the NHL All-Star Game fan balloting opens, allowing fans to choose from a panel of the NHL's best players to determine who should be a part of the 2012 All-Star game in Ottawa.
There is space for six players on the fan ballot: Three forwards (left wing, centre, right wing), two defenseman and one goalie.
The NHL has made many strides to make the All-Star Game more exciting for the fans. The fan balloting, however, is not one of these strides. This process, in my opinion is a waste of time for both the NHL and the fans.
My problem is that the people that are chosen under fan balloting would not under any circumstance be avoided by the NHL.
In other words, the people that are usually chosen (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Ovechkin, the Sedins, etc.), would never be missed if an expert panel were to choose all of the All-Star game participants.
What's the point in voting for a guy or group of guys that are already guaranteed their spot in the festivities?
This is why the NHL All-Star Game fan balloting is a waste of time.
There has only been one time where a guy who made a good run at getting into the All-Star Game that would not typically be included in the festivities. In 2007, Rory Fitzpatrick, a seventh defenseman for the Vancouver Canucks made a "Vote for Rory" campaign to get into the game.
His campaign fell just short.
The story of "Vote for Rory" gained many headlines leading towards the deadline. This was good for the NHL, despite some experts arguing the contrary.
Even in this circumstance, it was very controversial because Fitzpatrick almost made it in, when it was clear he did not fit the definition of an "All-Star." The NHL was even accused of toying with the results to exclude Fitzpatrick.
Campaigns to get into the All-Star Game have been fun in the past throughout sports, especially in the NBA, where players have really embraced the idea (Chris Bosh in Toronto is the best example).
This season, the NHL has further limited the possibility of a surprise player making it into the game through fan balloting by producing a list for fans to choose from. You can write in additional picks that have been left off the ballot. However, this seems horribly inconvenient.
So far, the only campaign that has gained notoriety around the league has been one called "Project Mayhem" in which fans are encouraged to vote for former Ottawa Senators as way of showing how bad the management has been in Ottawa. Players include Dany Heatley, Zdeno Chara, Martin Havlat, Marian Hossa, Chris Campoli and Mike Fisher.
There are two problems with this. First of all, a couple of these players (Chara, Havlat, Hossa, Heatley) will more than likely make the All-Star Game anyways. Secondly, fans in Ottawa have embraced the idea as a way of showing the history of the team on the anniversary of their 20th season.
A couple of wild card picks.
I say that the All-Star roster should be revealed a couple of weeks earlier and then give fans a chance to choose a couple of players out of those who were not chosen to the regular All-star roster.
I think if this method was applied, players would be more inclined to make campaigns to try and get into the game because they have been left out, much like what Fitzpatrick did in 2007.
Fitzpatrick not only made a name for himself with his campaign, but he made the All-Star fan balloting fun.
After all, isn't that what the All-star Game is about?