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All-Star debate: What needs to change?

All-Star debate: What needs to change?
all-star-debate-what-needs-to-change


BURNSIDE: OK, my friend, time to talk about Pittsburgh Penguins Authentic Jersey the NHL's All-Star Game and the participants who were announced this past weekend to round out the rosters after the fans voted in a starting lineup of five Chicago Blackhawks and a Latvian (Zemgus Girgensons of the Buffalo Sabres, a terrific story). Now I know you spent the weekend kicking over garbage pails and throwing stuffed animals over the injustice that was the exclusion of Henrik Lundqvist and Ryan Kesler. But take a deep breath, it’s just a game. And barely that. Maybe I’m overstating things vis-a-vis your All-Star obsession. But let me ask you: What were your impressions when you saw the list of players that the NHL’s hockey operations department came up with to go to Columbus for the All-Star draft, skills competition and then finally (mercifully?) the game on Jan. 25? LEBRUN: I’m telling you, it was a catch! Oh, wait, you’re not asking me about Dez Bryant? The All-Star what? Oh, the NHL All-Star Game. Honestly, I cannot believe that people raise a stink about who’s in and who’s out. WHO CARES? I’ve been saying for years that the All-Star Game should be cancelled, and perhaps one day they’ll listen to me. Many of the veteran players would rather be in Jamaica that weekend than at the actual event. But there is no question that it still matters to the younger guys who have never been. Now, to answer your first question, I have to go read who was selected and who wasn’t. BURNSIDE: Well, let me help you. First of all, understand that it’s not really an "All-Star Game" but rather a friendly that’s designed to keep as many people happy in as many markets as possible, which is why hockey ops tries to ensure that every team has a participant -- thus, in theory, drawing in fans from all corners of the NHL universe. That’s why Rick Nash is the only New York Ranger because someone from Edmonton (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who is tied for 102nd in league scoring with 25 points) has to go. Hey, we understand wanting to spread Penguins Christian Ehrhoff Black Jersey the All-Star love, but it does smack of kids’ sports leagues where everyone gets a trophy and no one really wins. And conversely, no one really loses, which is OK if you’re 6 years old, but if you want this event to mean something, then the selection of the participants should mean something. And you’ll notice that guys like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg weren’t selected, even though they are certainly worthy. You have to wonder if that’s to avoid the embarrassment of the All-Star event in Montreal in 2009 when commissioner Gary Bettman had to "suspend" Detroit Red Wings star Nicklas Lidstrom and Datsyuk after they begged off that All-Star event even though they were healthy. So let’s say you were commissioner (and who wouldn’t want to see that happen): Short of canceling the game entirely -- it’s a big corporate schmooze-fest -- would you try to spread the love or just invite players who deserve to be there? LEBRUN: I think you have to have all 30 teams represented. But I must say, not selecting a guy like P.K. Subban baffles me. The guy thrives on stages like this, he would have been a ton of fun and no doubt would have tried some crazy moves in the game. He’s a terrific personality, and I think it’s crazy he’s not Columbus-bound. The real question here is what to do with this event; the game itself has become stale. I’ve said this before, but it might be fun to re-create -- at least once -- Rendez-Vous 1987. That year at the Le Colisee in Quebec City, instead of having the regular All-Star Game, the NHL’s All-Stars played a pair of games versus the former Soviet Union. It made for some memorable hockey. Now, the Cold War is over, but it might be fun to play against the top players from the KHL, Swiss League, Swedish League, etc. The IIHF can pick an All-Star team made up of players overseas to take on the NHL’s top players. Sure, the NHL All-Stars would be heavily favored, but stranger things have happened. Those IIHF All-Stars would be mighty motivated to show up their big NHL brothers. I’ve actually run this idea by NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly. BURNSIDE: I don’t mind that idea, and with the NHL looking to http://www.nhlofficial.com/marcel-goc-jersey-c-1_363_380.html tap into the European market -- it’s possible the NHL will unveil plans for a renewed World Cup of Hockey in the fall of 2016 during the Columbus All-Star festivities -- maybe this kind of event fits in. I will say, however, that I don’t mind the fantasy draft element introduced two All-Star Games ago in Raleigh as a wrinkle that keeps things a little more fresh and seems to be fun for the players and the fans alike. I’m torn on the event’s raison d'etre (that’s French for reason for being) if guys like Subban or Joe Pavelski (who is on pace for another 40-goal season) or Marc-Andre Fleury (who is the league leader in shutouts and whose 21 wins are the fourth-highest in the league) or Lundqvist (who's Rangers are the league’s hottest team) don’t get a chance to compete because there is this notion that everyone has to be represented. Not sure how you get around it, but for me it eats away at what little credibility the event has to begin with. So do you really think that was a catch by the Cowboys? LEBRUN: That’s a really good point about the World Cup and the desire of both the NHL and NHL Players’ Association to tap into more of the European market. Perhaps there is indeed a fit here to salvage the All-Star Game or at least give it a rebirth of some kind. I actually don’t mind the events surrounding the game. To have all these stars in one place, selfishly from a media standpoint, is terrific; it’s why it’s a must-cover event for us, because the access to all these guys is tremendous. It’s just the game itself that always disappoints.

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