This subject will likely be shot down by most, but regardless, I don?t believe the All-Star Game is relevant enough to perpetuate its existence. I have no memory of an NHL All-Star Game since 1997 when Owen Nolan called his shot on a breakaway against Dominik Hasek?to make the game 11-7. The excitement of the game can be captured by reading the box score as you check to see who won the MVP and if your favorite players chipped in.
As a hockey fan, the thrill of a game that MATTERS keeps you coming back. An exhibition that removes so many elements of what makes hockey special comes off more like Disney on Ice than a game played by grizzled athletes.
The NHL has attempted to make the game more interesting, only to fall on their collective faces. First it was the North America vs. The World format introduced during the 1998/99 season. News flash?those sentiments died when Rocky IV hit theaters. This format may have worked had all the best players in Europe been playing here, but that wasn?t the case.
The latest attempt is a retreat to playground dodge-ball, with captains being selected and then picking their teams from a list formulated from fan voting and the NHL operations department. While this would be more entertaining if only two captains were selected by the media, and then those players would have the entirety of the NHL to choose from, we are not so lucky. Instead, biased fan voting is allowed to taint a roster with players undeserving of the honor.
If anything, the NHL should nurture the East vs. West debate that is so often argued amongst hockey fans everywhere. But so long as the game is void of physical contact, the traditional East vs. West format is sterile as well.
So many players utilize the break to rest up and prepare for the second half, which in itself should tell you where the game ranks. I?m willing to bet that if the NHL simply named an All-Star roster, and that the players incentive clauses kicked in based on that declaration, the NHLPA wouldn?t mind if the game went away.
The one argument that I am compelled to listen to is in regards to the skills competition. Save for Alex Ovechkin acting like the drunk guy nobody wants to make contact with (a sight we will not have to endure this year), the stage presents some moderate entertainment. But while it may be fun bar trivia to be able to rattle off who has the hardest slap shot, actually sitting down and watching the event leaves me hollow.
So this weekend, as you are tending to household chores or your kid?s whatever practice, don?t be shocked if, come Monday, you forgot all about this cherished game. You won?t be alone.
Follow me on Twitter @SBooch1.