If you want to support your favorite player for the NHL All Star Game to be played at the RBC next month, your window of opportunity will soon be closing. Voting ends on Monday, January 3.
The latest local results, which were released on Monday of this week, have created a bit of stir here in the Triangle. Apparently, no one expected that Chad LaRose would be the lead recipient of votes for Carolina players at this late stage of the process. (results as of 12/27/10)
- Chad LaRose 117,920
- Eric Staal 114,254
- Cam Ward 76,954
- Joni Pitkanen 58,951
- Jeff Skinner 47,473
- Jussi Jokinen 20,610
Adam Gold, afternoon sports personality at 99.9 The Fan, went so far as to call fans "idiots" for bypassing Cam Ward and Eric Staal while they were voting. (With tongue in cheek of course.) I had a little fun with the quote on Twitter Tuesday evening and Gold was nice enough to invite me to chime in with my two cents on his show Wednesday afternoon.
While on the air, I pointed out that some other fanbases were voting in a similar manner. For instance, New York fans had NHL bad boy Sean Avery leading all Rangers with 161,682 votes while Henrik Lundqvist only had 67,450. Avery is a write-in candidate while Lundqvist is on the ballot. (By the way, Lundqvist is tied with Tim Thomas with a league leading five shutouts.)
Cam Ward certainly deserves strong support, but depending upon how you look at this situation, the voting results could be considered totally insignificant after the top six recipients. Thanks to the change in team format announced by the NHL earlier, the East will no longer be facing the West and only six players are guaranteed spots based upon votes. Since the teams have yet to be selected by the respective team captains, (and the captains have yet to be selected), those players could end up being on different teams and may or may not start.
(More about that in the latest Hurricanes Report Podcast)
That means that Staal and Ward could still start the game, (if they make the team), regardless of the number of votes they receive. The team coach or team captain will probably make that call.
There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Staal will make the team and my guess is that Ward has a good chance to be selected as well. NHL Hockey Operations makes the final decision and their selection criteria has not necessarily been based upon popular votes in the past. They could very well throw the host team a bone and include Ward in the festivities. He certainly has the stats to back up the selection as he is among the league leaders in wins, total saves, and save percentage.
Currently, Ward is in eighth place in the goalie voting race:
- Marc-Andre Fleury 311,623
- Carey Price 309,598
- Sergei Bobrovsky 237,575
- Tim Thomas 139,182
- Jaroslav Halak 117,151
- Jimmy Howard 116,503
- Ryan Miller 94,206
- Cam Ward 76,594
Even if every Caniac was on the same page, it would take more than a miracle to surpass either Fleury or Price for the guaranteed spot. And while more votes would certainly look better for appearance sake, they most likely won't change the outcome.
Fleury might be in a ticklish situation because if he does not win the popular vote, there's a chance he might not get in at all. At times this season, he was out-played by teammate Brent Johnson, plus teammates Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, and Evgeni Malkin will be in and there is not enough room for too many participants from a single team.
My six choices would be: Fleury, Price, Thomas, Ward, Jonas Hiller, and Jonathan Quick. Ondrej Pavelec has had a great season so far, but I don't believe he has done enough overall to warrant selection yet.
It will be interesting to see what Hockey Operations comes up with and if they try to even things up between the East and West, even though the team structures will not be based upon geography.
So, did some Caniacs mess up when they voted for their personal favorites and not for Cam Ward or Eric Staal?
Being a small market team with one of the smallest population bases in the NHL to work with, it was extremely doubtful that Canes fans could muster enough votes to capture one of the guaranteed spots, even if everyone voted for the same player. What's the harm if Chad LaRose and a couple of other players received a little national exposure out of the deal? Fans seemed to enjoy their campaign efforts, including using special Facebook pages and daily Twitter promotion.
We'll have more coverage about this and will review the final voting results, along with charts and graphs provided by hockeymom.