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Always Tell the Voter What the Voter Wants to Hear

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The past day or so I have been reading a lot about the All Star game voting. A couple of articles I came across made me think about and question my "fanhood". As I mentioned in a posting a few days ago, I'm not very excited about the voting process itself. In my opinion, fans in the most populated areas have a major advantage because most end up voting for players from their own teams, regardless of who they really think the best players are. Sometimes players get tremendous support even though they barely played during the season because of injuries or other reasons. The process turns into a meaningless popularity contest which makes it almost impossible for a small market like Carolina to have a significant impact on the results. I also feel that the results are somewhat "tainted" because of the whole process.

The first article that caught my attention was on James Mirtle's site. James linked an article that he wrote for the Globe and Mail. In it he totaled up all the votes that each of the players had received by team, and came to the following conclusion.

Ottawa 262028
Pittsburgh 259247
Montreal 249834
Philadelphia 209897
Buffalo 162542
Toronto 151533
N.Y. Rangers 130672
Tampa Bay 127350
Boston 91669
Atlanta 79096
New Jersey 78340
Washington 66198
Florida 63701
Carolina 39807
N.Y. Islanders 28827

More than a reflection of the standings, this looks an awful lot like a portrait of fan engagement across the league. Teams that are doing well at the gate are doing well in all-star balloting so far (which maybe shouldn't come as a surprise).

I'm sorry, but I don't agree with James about this. First of all, Carolina has got a higher average attendance number than does New Jersey, Florida, Washington, Boston, and Atlanta, all who have significantly higher voting turnout for their players than Carolina does for theirs. How exactly does this voting process accurately measure the value or size of one's fanbase or correlate with attendance? I haven't voted yet, but if I did vote I would vote for Vincent Lecavalier, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Dany Heatley as best forwards in the East. I don't necessarily like those players more than I like Eric Staal or Justin Williams, but objectively I feel they are the best right now. Does this make me a bad fan? My votes would not have been counted as votes for Carolina in this analysis but I most certainly attend each Carolina game. This leads me to the all important question. Are all people from Carolina and other NHL cities automatically supposed to vote for players on their respective teams? I'm sure that Sidney Crosby gets tons of votes from people who have never set foot in the Igloo, so that fact would also seem to contradict the perceived correlation between votes received and attendance for teams whose players receive the most votes.

Another article which garnered my attention was written by my co-hort Tyler, over at NHL Digest.com. Tyler came across a team who is aggressively marketing their attempt to get their players voted into the classic. The Philapelphia Flyers have taken the promotion to another level as they are literally attempting to "buy" votes by offering prizes to those who "send their Flyers to the 2008 All Star game". Of course when half of the team has been suspended at some point or the other during the year, maybe this is their best bet to make it? And some of you probably thought that I was just being too cynical with my previous All Star game related posting titled, "I'm So Excited....Not".

Chumbawamba