All-star format needs a change
Greetings from Montreal! Well, not really, but the National Hockey League celebrated 100 years of the Montreal Canadiens by holding this year’s all-star game in Montreal Sunday night. An all-star game should be used to showcase the league’s best talents and strengths.
Where was Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara’s record breaking 105.4 mile per hour slap shot? No open ice hits or hits at all? It is understood that no one wants to get hurt playing in an exhibition of skill, but let the game mean something other than a marketing ploy. The NHL, along with the National Basketball Association, should take a page out of Major League Baseball’s playbook and have the winning conference of the all-star game take home ice/court advantage for their respective finals. This would add a little urgency and importance to the game.
Instead, the NHL kept harping on the fact that the game is a great time for all the players to become pals and have fun. Okay, this is a sporting event, not a fraternity.
On the subject of hockey, if the season ended today the Stanley Cup would be landing in San Jose. The Sharks have put together a squad that is deeper, bigger and hungrier than last season’s squad that was upset by the Dallas Stars in the second round. No disrespect to the defending champions, the Detroit Red Wings, but the Sharks are the class of the league. When league play resumes Tuesday, the Red Wings will be without captain and No. 1 defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and high-scoring wing Pavel Datsyuk, as both will be suspended for not attending the all-star game to nurse nagging injuries. Pittsburgh Penguins center and league poster boy Sidney Crosby opted to sit out of the game, but still attended the festivities and his media obligations, thus avoiding suspension.
With a rugged 82-game schedule, why punish players for tending to their ailments and not attending an all-star game? The well being of players like Lidstrom and Datsyuk are more important in the Stanley Cup finals, rather than an exhibition game of ‘pansy-fied’ hockey.