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All Star meh
What's the point?
1/30/10 - By Mike Lee -

The NHL staged its mid-season All Star Weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina, showcasing the best and brightest on skates. There was plenty of pomp and circumstance, but not a lot of pop. I’m not even sure I understand the purpose anymore. It’s funny, because I used to live for stuff like this. I’m the guy that used to get offended when my favorite team wasn’t sufficiently represented in an All Star games, but somehow, that passion has fizzled.

When I was a kid, I’d get seriously upset if “my” team didn’t have a player that was a showcase guy out on the field or the ice. I think I may inherently hate professional basketball because of the fact that only a handful of teams are represented in the NBA All Star Game.

Major League Baseball has a long lived tradition that every team in the league is to have at least one player on their All Star Game roster. If an All Star game is supposed to be a showcase of talent, then the “every team is represented” rule doesn't hold water, but it’s great for appeasing 10 year-old boys who want to see their team represented.

Maybe that’s another thing that baseball gets. The showcase is about marketing your product at the end of the day. The NHL has always had a nice mixture of players, but the fundamental rule of putting a product in front of your customer’s that is compelling just misses the mark when it comes to the NHL All Star Game.

There is no drama and when you cross that with a game that averages 5 to 6 goals per game, it’s not really conducive to lots of dramatic offense. By that I mean offense that’s generated real competition. Players opposing each other with intensity and intent. NHL All Star Game scoring is essentially the offense versus a goaltender.

When 90% of the goals are scored because there is no defenseman within 20 feet of the goal, is there really anything to get excited about. The beauty of hockey is the speed, precision and difficulty of moving a small rubber disk across a frozen sheet of ice. When you take the speed and precision out of the equation, it really loses all its allure.

The only thing remotely interesting during Sunday's game was Alex Ovechkin’s decision to throw his stick at a breakaway chance for Matt Duchene. You never see that call made, much less in an All Star game. Heck, you don't even see penalty shots called in an All Star Game, but that's what was awarded to Duchene for Ovechkin’s infraction.

Shark Representation

As for the Sharks that were in Raleigh over the weekend, Dan Boyle and Logan Couture did a nice job of representing the Bay Area. Couture didn’t play in the game, but he got to experience the event up close. Perhaps seeing the guys involved, motivates the youngster to play for something bigger in his career.

Couture was quickly eliminated in the Accuracy Shooting event, falling in the first round, but impressed in the Elimination Shootout event, by beating Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas with a nifty backhand shot that slipped between the netminder’s pads.

Dan Boyle was relegated to passer in the Accuracy Shooting event, but was one of the passing accuracy participants in the Skills Challenge Relay. Boyle was tasked with hitting 6 targets set at various ranges with flat passes and feather passes that were required to clear a 4-inch high obstacle.

Boyle led team Staal in ice time in Sunday’s game, logging 21:54 on 14 shifts. Boyle was even, although he assisted on Eric Staal’s goal with 34 seconds left in the contest.

Riddle Me This?

I watched the second intermission of Sunday’s game to see what all this Guardian Project business was all about. I have to say that my jabs at what I knew about the “project” in my column last Friday didn’t miss the mark. I’m still trying to figure out what the whole intent of the GP is?

Is it a marketing deal between the NHL and Stan Lee? Is it a new anti-terror initiative being sponsored by the government? Perhaps the NHL is getting into the comic book business as a new source of revenue?

I don’t get it, and after watching the unveiling on Sunday, I’m still not sure I can explain what the purpose is.

Former Captain’s New Gig

Former Sharks captain Rob Blake will be “utilizing the things he learned over the 20 years in the league” in his new role with the NHL. What that means exactly is still pretty vague. Blake was interviewed briefly during Sunday’s game, introducing him to the hockey world in his new role.

It was a pretty fitting explanation by Blake, as defenseman don’t really do anything at NHL All Star Games!


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