If you thought it couldn’t get any worse than last year’s all-star draft fiasco, featuring the unlikely choice of Zemgus Girgensons as a fan-vote named player, welcome to the 2016 NHL All-Star Game.
While this year’s all-star game was supposed to be all about the new 3-on-3 all star format -which allows fans to tune in to three 20 minute games to decide a winner, instead of one regular length game- it has been overshadowed by another fan voting mishap. The goal of the fan vote is to include NHL fans in the process of selecting players for the All-Star Game, which is important, considering that this game is ultimately more for the viewers than the participants. The flaw in this plan is that fans apparently do not have the serious approach to this situation that the league was hoping they would.
One would think that since the 2015 fan vote lead to the selection of Zemgus Girgensons- the only Latvian born player in the NHL, who played for the last place Buffalo Sabres ( a feat accomplished by all of Latvia tuning in everyday to vote for him)- that the NHL would have realized that maybe the fan-vote isn’t the best way to go about things. Although in retrospect, the choice of Girgensons was probably a good one, considering he was likely the only eligible All-Star on the Sabres, and Girgensons did hold up well against the best of the best in the game, another player was probably more deserving of the spot than a player who only played 61 games, producing 30 points. In the end, Girgensons kindly asked his home town fans to keep him out of the All-Star game, stating that “such things must be earned.”
If only fans had listened.
A similar situation arose this year around Arizona Coyotes player, John Scott. Scott, who is in his seventh season, has spent his career jumping between teams such as the Blackhawks, Wild, Sabres and now, the Coyotes. Not known for his skill as much as his sometimes funny hockey themed holiday videos, Scott has not scored yet this season. However, he jumped out to an early lead in this years fan-vote to choose team captains. Scott was chosen along with Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane and Jaromir Jagr (who also requested that fans not vote for him). Unlike the Girgensons incident, this years format states that one player from each team must attend the All-Star Game. Scott will be the only representative from the Coyotes to attend the All-Star Game, leaving out Max Domi, a sure candidate for the Calder Trophy at the end of the season.
To make matters worse, TSN Insider Bob McKenzie states that the NHL and the Coyotes have asked Scott to drop out of the All-Star Game. Scott refused and, likely as a result, has now been traded to the Montreal Canadiens. McKenzie has also reported that the NHL may deem Scott ineligible to participate in the game. These decisions will not only have an impact on his stature in the NHL but also on his personal life, something that should never be dictated by fans.
Should the NHL insist on having a fan-vote, the safest option for everyone would be for the NHL to select a list of players that will be included in the game and have the fans choose from there who should be captain. The NHL needs to take action to insure that this does not happen again. NHL players should not have to have their personal and professional lives damaged because fans think everything is a joke.