Monday, January 26, 2009

ASG recap and changes

Well, the 2009 NHL All-Star Weekend has come and gone with all the usual highlights and an unfortunate number of lowlights. Despite their best attempts, Montreal fans were unsuccessful in barring Boston from the festivities with all four Bruins making their presence felt. Quick recap of the Bruins’ impact upon the weekend…

Blake Wheeler – Hat trick in the YoungStars game (against Carey ‘The Second Coming’ Price!) and a couple of assists… named MVP.

Zdeno Chara – Breaks record for hardest shot with 105.4mph blast and raises $24K for Right to Play, his charity of choice. Was booed (as were all the Bruins) at the introductions but amazingly, the Montreal fans were classy enough to applaud his record-breaking victory and his honorable charitable efforts.

Marc Savard – Runner-up in the elimination shootout to Shane Doan… three assists in the game and one funny bastard when mic’ed up.

Tim Thomas – The true MVP of the ASG… gave up two quick goals in 3 minutes and then only allowed 1 more in the last 22 minutes, including stonewalling Nash and Doan on the shootout. Ultimately had 19 saves on 22 shots in 25 minutes and 2 for 2 in the shootout… winning goalie for second straight year.

Now for those unfortunate lowlights… the NHL just can’t seem to avoid the damned things! Of course, in this instance I am referring to the glaring issues with fan voting determining the starters. The fact that this game ended up being a contest between the ‘Pittreal Canaduins’ and the ‘Chicaheim BlackDucks’ is pathetic to say the least. It is even more damning when you consider the fact that the four teams (Montreal, Chicago, Anaheim & Pittsburgh) to comprise the starting lineups are not in the top 6 in the NHL (7th, 10th, 16th & 18th respectively) and not one leads their division. So now the question is… what can be done to right the ship and make the NHL ASG at least slightly reputable?

1 – Keep the ‘1 Team, 1 All-Star’ rule currently in place and allow fans of each team to vote on their team’s representative. This would fill 15 of the 21 roster spots with the remaining six being given to the league to decide upon. The main problem here would be too many teams voting in goalies but this could be solved using season stats as tie-breakers and the fans second choice being named in the loser’s stead.

2 – Same as #1 with a twist… the extra roster spots are given out proportionally to the top teams in each conference. For instance, this season would see two extra spots go to Boston, Washington, Detroit and San Jose since they are the clear ‘elite’ of their respective conference. The remaining four extra spots would be divided between Chicago, Montreal, New Jersey and Calgary as these are the 3rd and 4th team in each conference based on the standings. The problem here is that the proportional spots could not be determined until close to the break and therefore fan-voting wouldn’t be possible for those.

3 – Get rid of the ‘1 Team, 1 All-Star’ rule and just let the league fill in the 15 reserves with the most deserving candidates regardless of team. This would make the ballot-stuffing less damaging since there would be more spots for the truly deserving to still make the squad. Problem here is that the rule is in place to make it so that every fanbase has someone to cheer for and therefore a reason to watch the ASG. This could be solved by ensuring all teams are represented in the skills events and the YoungStars game… possibly even upping the ratio of non-ASG team reps to account for the disparity.

Needless to say, however the NHL decides to act (or not act as is more likely the case), controls need to be implemented to limit excessive voting from one source. Whether it be vote caps per email or IP address, I do not know… I just know that the NHL needs to change it and has two full years to do so. My guess is nothing will change for 2011 and Bete-man will point towards the results of this years game and the ‘fair and balanced’ voting as evidence that all is well.


Rian Murray said...

I understand that the league is trying to be "fan-friendly" when it comes to this, but it just doesn't work.

All Star games should be decided by players and coaches. They know best. They should pick. It would mean more to be voted in by your peers. It seems more honorable.

Fans are not only biased when it comes to this, but most of them have very little hockey knowledge.

Also, there are too many teams now to do 1 player per team. Let the best of the best play.

The Bastard said...

The i per team rule works in baseball cause the roster is so much larger. The NHL ASG roster can't get any bigger (no bench space!) so the rule hurts more than it helps.

That is a great point about the fans not being knowledgable... I mostly go by stats on determine players candidacy but those never speak the whole truth and I am admittedly lacking in hockey knowledge. I think that is why I am enjoying the Bruins so much lately... lets me learn something new when I already fully understand baseball and football. Too bad my ass can't even skate so I won't ever truly get hockey.