The NHL All-Star game is one of the NHL’s top showcases during the regular season. While the format of the game has undergone changes over the years, the game highlights some of the NHL’s best players over a long weekend.
As everyone witnessed in last year’s game, fan favorite and notable NHL tough guy John Scott was a participant in the NHL’s top event. Some NHL executives were not happy about Scott’s appearance, but the movement created by the fans provided a wonderful added storyline to the event.
John Scott, who announced his retirement last month, was a member of the Arizona Coyotes last season before the All-Star game. Heading into the game, he had 1 point in 11 games played, and spent many games as a healthy scratch.
While John Scott was the most popular guy during a long weekend in Nashville, the “fan vote” forced the NHL to make changes in this year’s new format. In this year’s event, a player must be on a club’s active roster by November 1 in order for them to qualify for the event.
While the NHL has limited the list of players who qualify for votes, there is still a “write-in” option for selecting the Captains of this year’s event.
The Fan Vote Has Backfired
The NHL All-Star Game was created to highlight the league’s top stars, by putting them all on the same ice surface.
While most hockey fans are passionate and have a good knowledge of the game, the fan vote has turned into a glorified popularity contest. Fans can become marveled by star power, and they may not be able to judge beyond the star power. Your average hockey fan may know the star caliber names like Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, or Steven Stamkos, but they may not be familiar other good players like Anze Kopitar, Mark Scheifele, or Roman Josi. Most fans tend to watch their respective favorite clubs and their players, but they may not be as familiar with players that skate for other clubs.
For the fans, it is easier to vote for a player from the Chicago Blackhawks or Pittsburgh Penguins roster, because both of those clubs have strong followings. But, would fans be able to vote fairly on a player that plays for the Arizona Coyotes or Carolina Hurricanes?
Fans Should Not Be Able to Vote At All
The NHL fans should not be able to vote for players making the All-Star game. The votes should be taken more seriously by the league.
So what should the NHL do to change the voting system?
Here is what I would suggest to NHL executives: let the lead beat writers vote. NHL executives should let the respective clubs choose two beat writers to participate in the All-Star voting.
By having two beat writers vote from each respective club, the league will get a good perspective from a small group of people. With each club represented by two individuals, there will be a total of 60 people participating in votes. I feel that a smaller number of votes will place an emphasis on which players are most deserving to attend the All-Star weekend. In the meantime, the writers’ votes can be anonymous, so that will eliminate any backlash from the fans.
Most of the lead beat writers that represent each club watch all of the teams play every night. They see the players in action, and have no personal bias towards any of the players.
I feel the lead beat writers could give an honest vote on the players and their performance. The beat writers take notice and write about various players other than the main stars. They put their personal fan bias aside, and see more players that may go unnoticed.
The All-Star voting should be taken more seriously. The fan popularity contest has ruined the voting, and it is time for the NHL to step in and take this power away from the fans. Players should be voted in on their on-ice performance, not because they are the most notable player. Beat writers should be able to see on-ice performance, and they should be able to give a clear and honest judgment in their votes.
By: George Foussekis