Wednesday, November 15, 2006

NHL all-star voting begins...
...and the Bettman ballots arrive

The NHL opens the fan voting portion of the 2007 all-star game today on, and for the first time, the process will be conducted entirely online. Voting is going to run until Jan. 2, while the game itself will be played in Dallas on Jan. 24 — a Wednesday of all things.

It'll be the first all-star game in three years when it finally does roll around, given that consecutive years with a lockout and the Olympics wiped out the past two, so it's no surprise there will be a ton of newcomers playing in the game. Of the 100 players named to the ballots, 37 have never played in an all-star game.

If you're looking for interesting and/or quirky names available for selection, there are a few. In the East, you get your pick of the injured (Henrik Tallinder, Wade Redden, Maxim Afinogenov, Mats Sundin), underperforming (Henrik Lundqvist, Alexei Zhitnik, Patrik Elias, Daniel Alfredsson, Peter Forsberg, Miroslav Satan), unknown (Brian Campbell, Alexei Zhitnik) or just plain washed up (Alexei Zhitnik). In the West, how about two (!) Coyotes, two Blues, two Blue Jackets and five Canucks?

All-star territory, it isn't always.

As per usual, the biggest problem with the ballots is that they neglect entirely players who have rocketed into all-star territory so far this season — Slava Kozlov, Thomas Vanek, Milan Michalek, Andrei Markov, Matt Carle, Vesa Toskala — and hit you heavy with players who made headlines five-to-ten years ago (Doug Weight's current zero-goal, all-star-inspiring turn comes to mind).

Jonathan Cheechoo, for instance, wouldn't have made last year's ballot during his Rocket Richard season (if there was a ballot), but gosh be darned if he's not on there the next decade — 60-point pace or not. It's almost as if the fellows upstairs haven't watched Weight et al. play a game since his 90-point season with the Oilers in 2001.

How else does he get on there?

But if you're going for an all-geriatric team, I'm game (hey, we already have the Young Stars — or at least we did, briefly, prelockout... I remember only because Brooks Orpik stole someone's invitation and Ossi Vaananen was nearly killed by a geezer-driven Buick). We can even keep it in Florida every year so members of the Panthers don't have to doddle far from Jacques Martin's old folks home.

How about Dom Hasek and Ed Belfour in goal, and Chris Chelios, Teppo Numminen, Glen Wesley and Luke Richardson on a gum-smacking blueline. Upfront, Gary Roberts leads the way at age 40, with Scott Mellanby, Joe Nieuwendyk, Mark Recchi, Jim Dowd (yes, he's still in the league), Brendan Shanahan, Dallas Drake, Tim Taylor and John LeClair joining the fun.

The best part? This entire crew was around when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, and so far this year have combined for 31 goals — 13 of which are Shanahan's, which leaves 18 among the other 11.

It'd be the anti-all-star game, with fewer goals, a slower pace, less hitting, and more groin pulls than Andy Grabia's hall closet on a long weekend.

I'd watch that.


At 8:37 a.m., November 15, 2006, Anonymous Lyle Richardson said...

Yeah! Testify, James! Amen, brother!

Seriously, you're absolutely right, but I doubt we'll see the NHL actually do anything to change it. Maybe it'll be addressed during the next lockout, since the labour stoppages are the only time when the league acknowledges its mistakes.

Except for its labour ones, of course.

At 10:30 a.m., November 15, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would suggest that Mats Sundin doesn't deserve to be on your list of underserving players. He was in the top 10 in scoring when he got hurt and he will have over 20 games before the all-star break once he returns.

Of course Alfie and Redden are laughable inclusions.

Since the league supposedly has the youngest and most web-savvy fans why wouldn't they make it completely online so that they didn't have to make a short-list that contains such ridiculous players as Doug Weight (ZERO GOALS?!?!)

At 11:07 a.m., November 15, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

somebody 'splain me the hall closet reference...

At 11:07 a.m., November 15, 2006, Anonymous pete said...

I wonder when Grabia will show up?

At 12:47 p.m., November 15, 2006, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Sundin isn't an an undeserving list — it says he's injured and on the ballot.

At 1:21 p.m., November 15, 2006, Anonymous Chris DeGroat said...

Still picking on the Blues? :(

In all seriousness, both Guerin and Stempniak would have been better choices from the Blues than Weight.

At 1:50 p.m., November 15, 2006, Anonymous Rod said...

With Sykora rightfully on the ballot, not all good starts were ignored. As you pointed out though, there are many deserving names absent. Completely on-line voting, and they still didn't include Kozlov? Or Carle? The odd inclusions and omissions in previous seasons could at least be excused for printing up the ballots...but this year?

At 4:37 p.m., November 15, 2006, Anonymous Gary Bettman said...

Hello James,

Just stopped by your blog with a quick request: could you please do your best to refer to NHL all-star balloting as the "COLD-fX / NHL ALL-STAR GAME FAN BALLOTING, PRESENTED BY 2K SPORTS"? Mark Messier and I would both really appreciate it.

Thanks in advance!

At 7:37 p.m., November 15, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary Bettman knows what a blog is? :D

At 10:18 p.m., November 15, 2006, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

"Because I'm fat and out of shape, I'm a groin pulling something or other? When have I ever stuck up for crappy old hockey players? I don't even work in an old folks home.

Mirtle, you've written a lot of just plain dumb stuff on this site, but here's a chart topper.

If you want to throw out garbage like that, at least have some substance behind it."

Jokes. But you could have at least put a link to BoA in with my name!

By the way, stop by on the way home at Christmas. I guarantee you won't even get a shot on net, let alone a goal.

At 12:43 p.m., November 16, 2006, Anonymous Julian said...

Oh god, I thought "Gary Bettman"'s comment was just satire, but it really truly is called the "Cold fX NHL AllStar Game 2007 Presented by 2kSports".

[GOB Bluth]
[/GOB Bluth]

At 3:57 p.m., November 16, 2006, Anonymous Your Boy Gary B. said...


Thanks very much for your interest in the game and for promoting the "COLD-fX / NHL ALL-STAR GAME FAN BALLOTING, PRESENTED BY 2K SPORTS". I'm sorry to inform you, however, that the name will only be around for this season.

I'm happy to announce that next year we'll be having the "Wendel Clark All-Star Game Fan Balloting, Presented by Steve Larmer".


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