Of course there is much hand-wringing around the league about the Eastern All Star selections announced yesterday. Some have gone so far to say that the tradition of having one player representing each team should be abolished. Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau had this to say:
As a personal opinion, I don't agree with the process," Boudreau said. "People would much rather see the best players in the world rather than one representative of every team. But that's the way it is for now, so that's the way we'll live with it."
Nice to see Boudreau speaking for all of the "people". Perhaps the suddenly bombastic coach should give his head a shake. First of all, where was the coach and his "noteworthy" opinions a couple of years ago when the Caps were in last place? (oh yeah, he wasn't even in the league) Did it occur to him that his own fans would have been shut out of the game in year's past using his logic?
Or perhaps Mike Green and Alexander Semin should be All Stars because of how well they played when they were on the Injured Reserve list a good part of the season?
Look, there is no doubt that Green and Semin are great players who could have made the team. But the problem with the system lies less with the attempt by the league to have one player from each team participate, and more with the process of allowing irrational fans to vote favorites in for the starters.
If you want to see All Star injustice, look no further than having Alexei Kovalev, Mike Komisarek, and probably even Carey Price make the team, let alone be starters. Where is Boudreau's outrage about that?
The NHL should get the blame for attempting to have all team's fans represented in the game? Heaven forbid that a player from Florida, Phoenix, or Atlanta get some national exposure. We all know that most fans would much rather watch the same guys over and over from the Pens, Wings, Caps, and Habs. It's not like they don't get a chance to see them on Versus every week.
The primary problem with the process is that many fans are incapable of unbiased, dispassionate voting. Perhaps the players, coaches, or even sports journalists should participate in the decision making? Or perhaps there should be limits placed on each IP address or phone numbers sending text message votes?
Until then, the entire process is a joke. You have whimsical Habs fans voting for Kovalev, the same player they have been booing for a good part of the season.
Whatever happens, don't take away the primary reason that many in small markets or those supporting losing teams would have to watch the classic, the ability to cheer for one of their own.