NHL All Star Game Needs to Go!

January 23, 2009 | Ed Frankovic

Detroit Red Wings defensemen, and 10-time All-Star, Nicklas Lidstrom, as well as forward Pavel Datsyuk have been suspended a game by the NHL for missing the All-Star game and festivities in Montreal this weekend due to league policy.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman imposed the policy, established at last year’s general managers meetings, to legitimize injury claims and improve All-Star Weekend attendance. The policy states All-Stars who are injured must have missed at least the last game before the All-Star break in order to be excused; otherwise, they must sit out the first regular-season game after the break.

The pair will miss the Red Wings’ regular-season game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, Colin Campbell, the NHL’s senior executive vice president of hockey operations, said Friday.

Sidney Crosby, on the other hand, will not miss the Pittsburgh Penguins next game because he was in attendance in Montreal, even though it was announced Thursday he would not take part in on-ice activities during All-Star Weekend as he rests an injured left knee.

Clearly the NHL upper suits see the All-Star game as a big marketing tool for the league and wants to have its’ stars playing. If you ask me, the All-Star game does NOTHING to market the game because it is not real hockey. The All-Star game has no defense, no hitting, no intensity, and no strategy and these are all KEY ELEMENTS to an NHL game. Therefore, I can’t blame many of the stars and teams for wanting their players to skip the game and all of the festivities (btw, the Caps Nicklas Backstrom pulled out of the Young Stars game earlier this week). Winning the Stanley Cup is what matters in the NHL and this weekend is a good opportunity for some guys to recharge their batteries for the stretch drive. About the only thing that is worth it from a marketing standpoint is the skills competition because some of those events are pretty cool. But the game itself is just downright awful and needs to be scrapped.

The NHL has already stumbled upon its best marketing tool, next to the Stanley Cup playoffs, and I’m not talking about the shootout (which this old schooler despises!) – it is the Winter Classic that has been played the last two years on New Year’s Day. Now that is GOOD MARKETING. You put a game outside in front of a large crowd and have the game COUNT in the standings and next thing you know you get the defense, the hitting, the intensity, and the strategy of hockey all in play. All you have to do is look at the ratings to see how successful that has been and everyone loves it.

So if you ask me, I think Bettman and Campbell’s policy is a joke and the NHL All-Star Game, which is the real joke, needs to go. Give us more Winter Classics between teams battling each other in the standings and that will attract more fans and viewers. I want to see Alexander Ovechkin in Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium, not playing in the annual “three on two” fest that NHL goalies hate and dread. This sham of a game that will be played in Montreal on Sunday night is something I will definitely not be watching and that is a shame, because I am a huge hockey fan. But this All-Star version is not real hockey so I continue to wonder why the NHL makes such a big deal about it?