Another year in the National Hockey League is reaching its halfway mark and All-Star Weekend will soon be upon us. Give the NHL credit where it is due, they have been making their All-Star games interesting and worth watching as of late, with designated team captains and a school yard pick ‘em style draft. This year looks to be no different with a new 3-on-3 tournament where the players stand to make a good amount of money, giving them more incentive to win. Unfortunately, another All-Star game on the horizon means the fans will have the ability to let their voices be heard in the fan-vote campaign.
Fan voting is possibly one of the biggest jokes in the NHL. For years, the NHL has given fans the opportunity to vote in several players to participate in the All-Star game. Last year, the fans voted Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks. There was one other player voted in by the fans: Zemgus Girgensons of the Buffalo Sabers. One could make the argument that the players from Chicago deserve to play in the All-Star game but doesn’t anyone think the All-Star game is a bit saturated with players from one team? Let’s get back to Zemgus “The Great” Girgensons, who was reportedly the “run away leader in fan voting.” One would think that he put up incredible points to be voted in by the fans, but he only had 8 goals and 22 points in 70 games the year prior, which was his rookie season. Girgensons received a large push from fans in his native country of Latvia. I get it you want to see him play, but this is the All-Star game. This should be an opportunity to get new fans to watch your sport’s best players in one game, not Zemgus Girgensons.
In terms of fan voting, 2016 looks to be no different. The four divisions will each be represented by one captain voted on by the fans. This year’s All-Star captains are Jaromir Jagr, Patrick Kane, Alexander Ovechkin, and John Scott. Wait…who? Most novice hockey fans have heard of three out of four of those names with John Scott being the odd man out. Scott has been called the NHL’s last true enforcer which has always been a nicer word then goon. Scott has 5 goals in his entire career. How did this happen again? It’s nice to know that the NHL listens to the fans, but fan voting is equivalent to letting the inmates run the asylum. It has been reported that Scott was approached by both the Arizona Coyotes and the NHL and asked to bow out of the All-Star game, to which he declined. Since then, Scott has been traded to the Montreal Canadiens, meaning he’s no longer in the Pacific Division and presumably no longer a captain. This certainly doesn’t seem fair to Scott; after all the NHL did let the fans vote.
There are plenty of other options to solve this problem. Maybe let the fans vote from a predetermined list of players consisting of top six forwards, first pairing defensemen, and starting goaltenders. They could allow top vote-getters from each team and fill the remaining spots with the highest remaining votes. No matter how you slice it, the current system is not working. Dangling an opportunity to be not only be an All-Star, but also a captain to a player that otherwise would not have such an honor isn’t fair. The NHL needs to make up its mind. Do they want to give the power to the fans? Or do they want to put the best players on the ice and truly have an All-Star game? Follow Stephen on Twitter
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