Sunday, January 30, 2011

OPINION: All-Star Weekend

Alright, this won't be much of a post when it comes to the hobby, but with it being All-Star Weekend I feel it's time for me to confess something.

For the most part, I actually enjoy the event. The evolution of the weekend and the root feeling and attitude that comes with it.

It's all about fun.

From the pretty successful draft on the Friday, to the exciting (although a little long) skills competition, to the actual game itself (and yes I know I'm in the minority on this one). I like it. I like it because it's fun.

It's fun to see these professional athletes acting like kids on the pond. It's fun to see some of these guys try tricks that they'd never attempt in a real game. It's fun to see the crowd cheer their hometown faves. It's fun to see the smile on the faces of the players after witnessing something - good or bad - and then razzing his teammate for it.

It's fun.

The only unfortunate thing is that most of the time, fun can be had by all. Why not in this instance? The corporate mumbo jumbo and the disgruntled haters of the event. The skeptics and those who don't even give it a chance. All of these things put a fog in front of the fun. Why? Why can't the game just be about the game? Why can't the event be about highlighting the talent and skill the stars possess?

I urge those of you who were either going to ridicule the game or pass on it all together to watch the match this afternoon with a different set of eyes. Watch the players in between the whistles. Watch the guys on the bench. Watch the kids whose eyes light up when the highlight reel goal is scored. Watch the event for the fun it is.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on the All-Star event. What works? What doesn't?


  1. I'm with you, Brett. I also enjoy the NHL's All Star Weekend.

    It's an opportunity to watch the game's best players perform in a relaxed atmosphere. Didn't Tim Thomas have the biggest grin after taking a spill in his race against Cam Ward?

    The creativity flows, too. Hats off to P.K. Subban for not once, but twice trying his swat-a-falling-puck breakaway move. You'd never see that in an official game.

    So what if the game doesn't count? As far as I'm concerned, the game's outcome has little to do with the weekend. It's all about the experience -- for the fans and the players.

    Sure, those who don't like it are entitled to their opinion. Unless they're offering a solution, though, they really ought to keep their yaps shut.

  2. Exactly! I couldn't have said it better myself.

    Thomas and Subban were the two biggest examples of just the pure fun of it all coming through.

    The game needs more of that. Maybe not in the actual games themselves, but somehow.

  3. I concur. I may be cynical most of the time but the NHL really does an All-Star event the way it is supposed to be done. They make it a spectacle with lots of fan friendly events and an environment that really let the players be themselves and have fun.

    I enjoyed the draft, although it became a popularity contest rather than players picking the "best" for the team. It will be an interesting game to see the team chemistry out there.

  4. I guess I'm going to have to disrupt the love fest here! :-)

    I will first admit that I didn't catch much of the action this past weekend. I just plain forgot the draft was on at the time or I probably would have checked it out. Just to see what it was all about. However, I imagine it would be something like those 'fantasy drafts' that TSN does before the season starts for their own little hockey pools. Do I really need to see that? No. Consequently, I don't watch those either.

    Anywho, I was pretty excited for the skills competition. It is the one thing that usually grabs my attention during these weekends. I want to see the hardest shot/fastest skater/breakaways. However, I soon realized that either I wasn't paying close enough attention, CBC was doing a horrible job covering it, or this format just doesn't work. was all three. You see...I'm old. I'm set in my ways. When I see Michael Grabner out there in an Islanders jersey I know that he is on the Wales (Eastern) Conference team. That much I can remember. But, this whole Lidstrom/Staal thing had me completely baffled as to who was on what team for the duration of the fastest skater competition. You might say the 'team' concept doesn't really matter in a skills competition like this and you'd be right for the most part. But, still, I am partial to the Wales. Old habits. And if the team thing doesn't matter, then why break them into teams at all for the skills portion?

    The 'creative' breakaways would have been better if they ACTUALLY SCORED on these plays. Guess what? I can also put the puck on the end of my stick, swing it in a lacrosse motion, AND FIRE IT WIDE! The goalies gave them every chance in the world to score! Damn, they are good sports (seriously). I would really rather see a straight up penalty shot situation where the player who scores keeps miss, and you're out.

    So, shortly after these events was the most accurate shooter competition and this is where I checked out. The coverage of this event was horrible! Simultaneous shooters? Lame. Pretty hard to keep track of as a viewer. For that matter, let's have one guy go around the ice at at time for fastest skater. What's with the 2 man race that doesn't matter anyway, since they're both against the clock?

    As I said, that's where I checked out. I literally said to my wife "This coverage sucks! I don't know who's on what team and CBC can't keep their cameras on the guys shooting the puck!"

    to be continued...

  5. and now, the conclusion...

    I did have the actual all-star game on for a few minutes, but that's all. I couldn't take it. I'm all for taking it a little easy in a game like this, but when I see NHL defencemen lazily swinging their stick in a vain attempt to appear to be trying a poke check as somebody flies by them it makes me sick. Is there some reason guys can't skate back hard and try to catch someone on a breakaway? Can the d-men not rub a guy out without putting him through the boards? I'm not asking them to kill each other, just put some real effort into stopping each other. The goalies are the real heroes in these games. They are the only ones actually trying! If I was a goalie I'd want to kill all these jerks when they laughed as a guy flew by them and came in on a breakaway.

    Is there a solution? No, I guess not. Cancel the game? :-) It seems like more and more players are becoming 'injured' right around the all-star break these days. The players don't even want to go! If salaries weren't so high now, you could offer the winning players a bonus, so there'd be something to play for, but that's out. The owners also don't want the multi-million dollar players getting hurt. Play the game after the season? Meh. It's hard enough to watch the Stanley Cup Final in June, let alone an all-star game. Clearly, the things that have been best in the past (to me) instead of the all-star game are the Olympics (of course) and the odd Russian series you'd see back in the 80s. How about that??? Last year's KHL winner vs. last year's Stanley Cup winner??? THAT I would tune in for.

    I really don't understand the non-competitiveness out there. And these are NHL players...the most competitive hockey players in the world. I would not want to be embarrassed as a player EVER. Even in a 'fun' all star game. I'd be interested to hear the TV numbers if anyone has them. Are more people actually watching compared to regular hockey games?

    Am I bitter. Yes. :-) Well, no. It's basically a 'whatever' thing with me. But, that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. Whew! Sorry bout the novel!

  6. Tell me how you really feel Dave.


  7. You bring up some good points. The 'creative' breakaways were a little hard to swallow when you rarely saw the puck in the net.

    They did do a shootout thing at the end that was better, but still.

    As for who was on what team, I'd like to see a 'fend for yourself' format. Everyone takes part in everything, cut down the number of events (stick to the classic events) and everyone gets points based on performance. Best score wins.....SOMETHING. Maybe it would make it a little more competitive.

    That bring us to the game. Yes it is barely a shadow of actual hockey, but I'm ok with it. I'm sure the kids watching had a good time. I look at someone like Danny Briere who brought his kids and had them 'coaching' on the bench. He was really enjoying things.

    I do think a little shake up (a la NHL vs. someone) could be pretty cool, but I doubt two leagues would rationally come together to make it happen.

    Face it, the good ol' days are gone. Orange jerseys and fibreglass masks are a thing of the past.

    And so is the Patrick division. :(

  8. Yeah, I didn't realize i had that much to say until I was into it!

    I like the fend for yourself idea. I guess it is just a time issue with 40 skaters taking part in each event. How about this:

    I know the NHL wants all its 'stars' there participating, but I'd like to see the actual best in each skill taking part. I believe most teams have their own skills competition before the all star game. Take the best 6 players across the league for each skill and bring them to the all star game just for the skills competition. Even if they aren't playing in the actual all-star game. I would love to see how fast Gaborik would have been. Or a guy like Darren Helm from Detroit. You can still work in the 'fan favourite' all-stars. The guys who are voted to the starting line-up can compete against the people brought in just for the skills competition. Then you will see things like "man, i thought Crosby was a fast skater, but he's a full second behind the top 6 in the league!" That would be interesting.

    I'm all for the players goofing around, having their families there, and having a good time in general...during the skills portion of the weekend. But when it comes to the game, let's at least show it a little respect and give it a 75% effort instead of 35%.

    I decided (if i hadn't already) that I really don't like the 'fantasy draft' thing. There is no team to cheer for. Who were Canucks fans cheering for? If a guy like Tavares was there, I guess I would have cheered for his team, but what if Lundqvist was also on his team? Boooo!

    Also, just wondering, do they not do the 4 on 4 rookie game anymore? I didn't hear any mention of it. That was kind of interesting to at least some young guys you don't normally see playing.

  9. I was disappointed that there was no rookie game. Don't know why there wasn't one.

    I too believe that getting the 'best of the best' would be cool. I went to the Flames' skills competition a few years ago and Adrian Aucoin was the hardest shooter - WITH A WOOD STICK. I'd love to see how he'd finish competing with the best.

    Ultimately, this All-Star Weekend is a 'work in progress' project right now. Let's hope it gets better.

  10. Apparently it did very well TV ratings wise. I think I heard an average of 2.5 million viewers in Canada. Not sure about the US numbers.

    I don't think the all star format will be changing anytime soon. It seemed very popular from what I've heard.

  11. At the end of the day, that's all that matters...