Upon perusing the 2013-14 NHL schedule, there were a number of things includes that caught my attention. 6 outdoor games, the Olympic break, re-aligned divisions/conferences and an earlier start date were some of the first things I noticed. The one thing that really stood out to me, though, was actually an exclusion: the All-Star game.
I realize that this is in large part due to the NHL sending its players to the Olympics, but nobody has made a peep about this yet. You would think that some sort of blurb would have been made just to let the public know that it was thought about.
The lack of comment on the matter leads me to believe that the NHL is slowly going to eliminate the All-Star festivities. There have been talks in that past couple years that players, teams and fans have all been tiring of the spectacle.
I understand what attracts people to the All-Star festivities, don’t get me wrong. I love seeing the best players from each team all playing together and having fun, leaving the seriousness and business of the game behind for a couple days. My problem is that many, myself included, feel that the novelty has just worn off.
In my own personal opinion, the game is boring. Sure, there are a lot of pretty goals and nice passing plays, but is anybody really trying? The goalies are basically pointless, and are only there so the players aren’t firing on open nets and defensemen aren’t going to start laying down and blocking shots for a game that means virtually nothing. Some would argue that having the proceeds go to the players’ pension fund is a good reason to continue, but even the players don’t seem interested in going anymore. Nicklas Lidstrom, Teemu Selanne, Pavel Datsyuk and Alex Ovechkin all opted to sit out to either rest or spend time with family. Ovechkin was suspended, and cited that as his reason, but one would have a hard time believing that the players just don’t want to waste their time and energy on a pointless game.
Let’s be clear here, the All-Star game is all about the fans; mostly the younger ones who wanna see “sick dangles” and “cheddar shootout dekes”, but a true fan knows that the more these guys play, the harder it is on them and they already have to worry about playing 82 games that are all crucial to their teams’ success. I would personally rather have no All-Star game, but have my favorite teams’ players all healthy and focused on the season.
Additionally, the league is running out of creative ways to keep the festivities entertaining. It used to be just the All-Star game, speed skating and some accuracy shooting. Recently they’ve added a fantasy draft in which players select each other, a relay challenge, a shootout tournament and a breakaway challenge. After a few years of this, I still don’t see this difference between the shootout competition and the breakaway challenge. It’s like Gary Bettman, Bill Daly and whoever else is in charge sat down and said, “Well, guys, we’re out of good ideas, so I guess we’ll just have a SECOND shootout challenge and call it a breakaway event. It’s perfect!” Not fooling me guys.
The point is, the league, the players and the organizers expel a lot of time, effort and money for this little affair when it seems as though it’s a little overrated and overdone, and now they have completely neglected to even mention the All-Star game in the press release announcing the schedule.
Call me crazy, but I see the NHL All-Star game as a fad that’s fading rather quickly. Your thoughts?