First Star, Worst Star: January 25th, 2015

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First Star. Worst Star. All-Star. All-Star Weekend. It’s the All-Star Weekend Edition of First Star, Worst Star! 

FIRST STAR

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The NHL All-Star game. 

The All-Star game seems to get more and more heat every year for being a boring, corporate cash grab that appeals only to anyone under the age of 13, and businesses with advertising budgets to burn. But it’s so much more than that. It’s roots can be traced all the way back to the 1940s. It’s a celebration of the best of the best in a league made up of the best of the best. It’s a way to see all your biggest fantasy line ups come to life. And at the end of the day it’s fun for everyone involved.   

One of my favorite all time hockey moments is the infamous Owen Nolan Calling His Shot goal. I can still remember it vividly. Those hilarious purple jerseys. Nolan coming in on the slowest breakaway in the history of hockey. He tells Dominick Hasek, arguably the best goalie on the planet at the time, exactly where he’s going to put the puck, and Hasek being Hasek he still decides to best way to stop this shot is to spin around on his back and flail his appendages wildly. The awful Fox-Trax thing trails the puck as it rings off the crossbar and in. The hometown San Jose crowd, and everyone watching at home, lose their damn minds. 

It was the perfect combination of everything that makes the All-Star game great. Displays of skill you’d never get to see in a regular game. A complete lack of back checking or anything resembling defence. And child-like excitement and fun that slowly fades from the game as we all get older. 

My friends and I recreated this goal for months on end. And isn’t that the whole point of the All-Star game? To make indelible memories and inspire the next generation of NHL All-Stars, used-to-bes and never-weres. The All-Star game is pure fun, and it should be considered as such, nothing more, nothing less.  

WORST STAR

The NHL All-Star Game. 

People have been complaining for years that the NHL All-Star game has become nothing but a weekend for NHL executives to glad-hand current and future corporate sponsors, a game that only appeals to anyone under the age of 13, and a waste of time for everyone involved, right in the middle of the NHL season. And they couldn’t be more correct! 

The first years of the All-Star game featured games that were intense, and the players actually wanted to win. The games got so intense that the 5th iteration featured Gordie Howe dropping the mitts with Rocket Richard. Could you imagine that now? Crosby and Perry going at it in the middle of an 11-8 game of shinny? 

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This picture IS the 90’s. 

Today the game features a bunch of guys who would rather be laying on the beach in Mexico with their teammates, playing a game at half the speed of a morning skate, and finding a way to make a game in which there’s a combined 30 goals feel incredibly dull and boring. 

Every team in the league is represented by at least one player, which basically makes the whole concept of “All-Stars” a moot point (Sorry Nuge). And don’t even get me started on the fan voting. It’s great in concept, letting the fans decide who the best/most exciting players in the league are, but in practice you get Zemgus Girgensons on an All-Star team over guys like Nick Backstrom or PK Subban.  

It’s a mean-nothing game in the middle of a season, right when teams are gearing up to make a playoff push. It has no bearings on the standings or the Stanley Cup Finals (at least the MLB All-Star game has some stakes), none of the players give more than 50% effort and the entire thing is a forgettable experience that no one will talk about the second the season resumes. Hell, the world’s best player hasn’t even played in the damn thing since 2007! 

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And don’t even get me started on this years PK Subban snub. All this talk about how the All-Star game is this great way for the NHL to lure in new fans and sponsors, and help grow the game, and you leave home easily the most charismatic players off the ice, and an incredibly exciting player on the ice, OFF THE DAMN TEAM? Unforgivable. 

TL;DR The All-Star game is a three day circle-jerk for the NHL and a bunch of people with advertising budgets to spend, the game itself is boring, and we’ve gone back to a system in which actual NHL All-Stars don’t make the All-Star team. Boo to you NHL All-Star game!  

  • R U Kidding Me!

    You think the All-Star game was bad. Wait until the next World Cup with the European all-stars and the under 23 team. What a joke, this is what we waited 12 years for.

  • mk

    After watching the All-Star game, I finally figured out where the Oilers are taking their defensive schemes from. They want all their players to be superstars, so they go with the All-Star team strategy. It ALL makes sense now!

  • mk

    The “all-star” game needs a lot of help.Next year bring in Bill Belichick. (hoodie and all) He could use his “scientific” knowledge and skills to count, measure and determine what is in a hockey puck.Anyone who knows how much hot air is in a soft or hard football would benefit this game.Maybe the only help for this annual is Science! Belichick has no peers.

  • Serious Gord

    When a pro sport branches off into contests that are not a part of the quest to be the best in the world the problem is always trying to motivate the participants to play at least near their very best.

    And the only way that has been achieved in recent years (since the advent of the multi-channel universe) is to motivate using cash. Lots of it.

    The term used to describe it is “skins”.

    The nhl needs to get $1000000 from each team.

    And then pay the players cash for various achievements – fastest shot; fastest skater and in the game, cash – say $50000 per goal and $20000 per assist $5000 per save; $5000 per body check or blocked shot; cash for best +\- and cash for team wins.

    This serious approach would make the game of interest to the bookies in Vegas for prop bets etc. and now the adult fans can get into the game.

    And let the Allstar GMs (yes, there should be allstar GMs) and coaches pick the teams and get a cut for being the winning managers.

    Yes, I know the players are already millionaires (as are some of the GMs and coaches) but I have no doubt they will get the competitive juices flowing when dough (and bragging rights are on the line) and I suspect many would adopt charitable causes to give the money to.

    The nhl needs to fix the allstar game and soon – it is making a mockery of the game.

    • The Last Big Bear

      Are you f@*#ing serious Gord? I guess you are 🙂 I would bet 29 NHL teams would pass on that type of All-Star game except maybe the Oilers. Getting half their team injured to get that top pick would be right up KBlows game plan.

        • Not a fan of it myself, but could care less if they continued it or punted it. Thing is, it’s about perception & as you know, right or wrong, perception is reality. The biggest benefactor is the host City & the economic impact it brings to that Host City. Seeing many of these teams all look for subsidies & incentives to reduce the operation costs for NHL teams, & surely as an Oiler fan, would know about the benefits Katz extorted out of the City of Edmonton. This is about the perception of the benefits an NHL team brings to the community. Players benefit in the long run because they are partners in this thing as well. So I could care less that the poor stars that are making the lion share of the players association revenue pie have to attend these things when they would rather be golfing somewhere during the All Star break.

  • Jeremy Ian

    I watched about 5 min of the 2nd period just to see how Nuge was doing. What I saw instead was that smug a**hole Getzlaf sitting on the bench after scoring looking like he’s God’s gift to hockey. Bald prick.

  • Jeremy Ian

    While I’m not a fan of the Allstar weekend, the arena looked full and most of the players appear to actually be having fun and enjoying themselves. My 8 year old son loved it and I enjoyed watching him in awe of the stars of game.

    Have we, as Oiler fans, been beaten down so long we have to hate on everything, including the Allstar game? Sad times.

  • Ed Hod

    The All-Star Weekend was a joke.

    Most of the players acted like they were too cool for school. Bunch of clowns.

    Where was the elite creativity on the breakaway relay?

    If I was an NHL exec I would be embarrassed by that weekend showing.

  • Ed Hod

    Any thing but what it is now! If it is for Kids then make it so Kids really get up close and personal with players. If it is about hockey then find a way to make it a real game. For me any of the below would be a better game.
    1. Pick some kids to play alongside the superstars for the night. Watching some 8-15 year old be in awe of who he gets to play with would be fun to watch.
    2. Play an allstar team from Russia
    3. Play two games first within the divisions on Saturday night and then East Vs West for the home ice during the playoffs after the first rounds. The season is about making the playoffs and home-ice for round one.
    4.Make the skills competition a situation were if the player has an on ice partner from Midget or some such level and if they win the combined skills competition the kid gets a big prize.