Does the All Star Game Need a New Voting System?

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The All Star Weekend for the NHL is a time when most players can spend much needed moments with family and friends and rest up for the final last push of the regular season. There are a select few however, who are chosen to take part in the All Star Game festivities such as the skills competition, rookie showcase and the actual game. But is it time a new voting format should be introduced that takes the power out of the hands of the fan?

As it stands now, the voting system has changed this year to reflect the change in the game’s format. Fans will be allowed to vote for one player from each division, and the leading vote-getter in each division will serve as the captain of his division’s team.

Each division’s roster will have six forwards, three defenseman and two goalies. One player from each division will be voted onto the team by the fans; the other 40 players will be selected by the NHL Hockey Operations Department. Each team will have at least one player from every team in its division.

Usually, fans take this opportunity to vote in whatever player is nominated from his or her respective team they support. The others are generally decided upon by who is doing the best currently that season. Then again, everyone is different when it comes to how they submit their fan vote.

Names like Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Tyler Seguin will undoubtedly be a big makeup in the running to be the picks from their divisions. Yet, we have seen some surprises already from some fans taking the opportunity to vote in players that may never have had a chance to play in an all star game before or whose opportunity to play in an all star game is fading.

Two names that come to mind are John Scott of the Arizona Coyotes and NHL legend Jaromir Jagr of the Florida Panthers. Scott has been known during his NHL tenure as a grind it out, fourth line player whose sole purpose is to be nuisance for opponents and to drop the gloves.
Jagr certainly has an all star resume already to his credit, but at 42 years old, does it really benefit the veteran to have him play in the all star game while another, younger player could be chosen to help the popularity of the all star weekend?

Scott has already publicly made a statement saying he is honored by the fan votes, but that there are other players on the Coyotes more deserving of a spot in the all star game (here’s looking at you Max Domi, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Anthony Duclair).

Many people take issue with the fans voting Scott because they see it as a joke, and in reality he has no place being at the all star game. Is it doing a player a service like Scott nominating him to an event like the all star game, when his skill set does not even come close to the same level as the other players that will be there? Or does it hurt him, and in a way embarrass him when he does get on the ice and is shown up for not being at the same level as those around him? No offense to the guy, but no one really thinks “all star” when John Scott’s name get mentioned in a sentence and I’m sure he knows that.

Voting a player like Scott into the all-star game doing is a disservice to the other players at the event and therefore cheapens the all-star event in general. These are supposed to be the best players in the game today, and having Scott there puts a cloud of doubt into that notion.

Jagr has also openly stated and joked, on social media that he feels with the new format of the all star game that he will get tired too quickly and that he is tool old for the all star game. Again, a player of Jagr’s status and reputation would have people tuning in for the game out of respect, but there are more deserving players to take his place. Then again, when you have another great from the game giving his support for you, why not?

For an event that struggles to draw in the fans and deemed not that important in many social circles, why would fans waste a vote on a player that would not add to the excitement of the event? Because they are doing it out of respect and admiration for a living legend, but that only can go so far in today’s NHL.

Herein lies the issue that the NHL really needs to hone in on. Should the league still allow the fans to have somewhat of a say in the voting, or do they take away that privilege altogether and have the players decide on who goes to the game, a peer voting system so to speak? It would detract from silly notions such as Scott getting a spot, but might also hurt the popularity of the event from the fan’s point of view.

These are all things to consider for an event that does its purpose. All-star games serve as a way for extra revenue for sports and no all-star game has any meaning except for Major Leaguer Baseball whose winning division gets home advantage for the World Series. And let’s be real, while not many players openly say it, they would rather spend the week resting than risk the possibility of an injury during a glorified skills competition that doesn’t meant anything? If you don’t agree, perhaps sure Rick DiPietro has some thoughts on the matter.

Peter Rossi

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