No-One Wants To Be Last Pick


In an effort to drum up more interest for the NHL All-Star game the front office bigwigs decided to bring hockey back to the playground, well not literally. This year, and for the foreseeable future if the experiment is a success, the all-star teams will be determined by two captains. How a player gets voted into the game has not changed, but there are no more ‘East vs. West’ or ‘North America vs. the World’ team formats. The players who are voted in will collectively vote for two of their own to be named captain and, just like in grade school, those two captains will basically have a fantasy draft of the greatest hockey players in the world. There are no conference affiliations when it comes to the draft; every player is available to either of the captains.

I understand the desire that the NHL has to try and exploit the All-Star game. After all, it is a collection of incredible talent assembled under one roof. The abilities that these players possess are unmatched by anyone else and should be given the correct arena to shine. However, proposing a quirky nod to yesteryear isn’t exactly the best way to create buzz. Every hockey player has thrown his/her stick into the pile and waited for someone to separate them into smaller piles, creating teams. But these players aren’t the local kids, they are professional athletes, and by taking away the semblance of professionalism you are pushing forth the notion that the all-star game is an even bigger joke than most people already perceive it to be.

What is the answer? That is a bigger question than just pertaining to the all-star game itself. The NHL as a whole is consistently dead last among the four major sports. Instead of creating a group to figure out how to better promote the all-star game the men in suits should cooperatively try to figure out how to fix the league. Is downsizing the answer? Perhaps, there are a number of fledgling hockey franchises in cities that aren’t akin to the game itself. My answer would be to move a few of those teams to Canada, for a start. There are six teams currently based in Canada, and those six teams collectively account for 40 percent of the NHL marketing revenue. Given those numbers why is Gary Bettman hell-bent on keeping a team is Phoenix? And why does Mr. Bettman try to pour more funds solely into an all-star game for a sport that is quickly becoming second-tier in America? The possibility to build on the popularity of the game after the Olympics was there but, as always, Gary squandered the opportunity. Perhaps Mr. Bettman doesn’t know a thing about the sport of which he is the commissioner, or maybe he thinks the fans will miraculously start showing up to an ice rink while its 80 degrees outside. Either way, there needs to be a change to not just the all-star game, but hockey as a whole, and it starts at the top.

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