First Star. Worst Star. All-Star. All-Star Weekend. It’s the All-Star Weekend Edition of First Star, Worst Star!
The NHL All-Star game.
The All-Star game seems to get more and more heat every year for being a boring, corporate cash grab that appeals only to anyone under the age of 13, and businesses with advertising budgets to burn. But it’s so much more than that. It’s roots can be traced all the way back to the 1940s. It’s a celebration of the best of the best in a league made up of the best of the best. It’s a way to see all your biggest fantasy line ups come to life. And at the end of the day it’s fun for everyone involved.
One of my favorite all time hockey moments is the infamous Owen Nolan Calling His Shot goal. I can still remember it vividly. Those hilarious purple jerseys. Nolan coming in on the slowest breakaway in the history of hockey. He tells Dominick Hasek, arguably the best goalie on the planet at the time, exactly where he’s going to put the puck, and Hasek being Hasek he still decides to best way to stop this shot is to spin around on his back and flail his appendages wildly. The awful Fox-Trax thing trails the puck as it rings off the crossbar and in. The hometown San Jose crowd, and everyone watching at home, lose their damn minds.
It was the perfect combination of everything that makes the All-Star game great. Displays of skill you’d never get to see in a regular game. A complete lack of back checking or anything resembling defence. And child-like excitement and fun that slowly fades from the game as we all get older.
My friends and I recreated this goal for months on end. And isn’t that the whole point of the All-Star game? To make indelible memories and inspire the next generation of NHL All-Stars, used-to-bes and never-weres. The All-Star game is pure fun, and it should be considered as such, nothing more, nothing less.
The NHL All-Star Game.
People have been complaining for years that the NHL All-Star game has become nothing but a weekend for NHL executives to glad-hand current and future corporate sponsors, a game that only appeals to anyone under the age of 13, and a waste of time for everyone involved, right in the middle of the NHL season. And they couldn’t be more correct!
The first years of the All-Star game featured games that were intense, and the players actually wanted to win. The games got so intense that the 5th iteration featured Gordie Howe dropping the mitts with Rocket Richard. Could you imagine that now? Crosby and Perry going at it in the middle of an 11-8 game of shinny?
This picture IS the 90’s.
Today the game features a bunch of guys who would rather be laying on the beach in Mexico with their teammates, playing a game at half the speed of a morning skate, and finding a way to make a game in which there’s a combined 30 goals feel incredibly dull and boring.
Every team in the league is represented by at least one player, which basically makes the whole concept of “All-Stars” a moot point (Sorry Nuge). And don’t even get me started on the fan voting. It’s great in concept, letting the fans decide who the best/most exciting players in the league are, but in practice you get Zemgus Girgensons on an All-Star team over guys like Nick Backstrom or PK Subban.
It’s a mean-nothing game in the middle of a season, right when teams are gearing up to make a playoff push. It has no bearings on the standings or the Stanley Cup Finals (at least the MLB All-Star game has some stakes), none of the players give more than 50% effort and the entire thing is a forgettable experience that no one will talk about the second the season resumes. Hell, the world’s best player hasn’t even played in the damn thing since 2007!
And don’t even get me started on this years PK Subban snub. All this talk about how the All-Star game is this great way for the NHL to lure in new fans and sponsors, and help grow the game, and you leave home easily the most charismatic players off the ice, and an incredibly exciting player on the ice, OFF THE DAMN TEAM? Unforgivable.
TL;DR The All-Star game is a three day circle-jerk for the NHL and a bunch of people with advertising budgets to spend, the game itself is boring, and we’ve gone back to a system in which actual NHL All-Stars don’t make the All-Star team. Boo to you NHL All-Star game!