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ASG Hurts The NHL

from Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald,

Anyone with even a partial understanding of the sport of hockey, and certainly people who have any fondness or respect for the NHL, should look upon the All-Star Game with nothing but contempt.

The event that occurs tomorrow afternoon at the Carolina Hurricanes’ RBC Center isn’t just a waste of time for all involved, it’s far worse than that. This ridiculous game isn’t merely of zero value in promoting the league, it’s actually a giant negative.

It hurts the game.

continued

Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: 2011+all-star+game

Comments

Red Winger's avatar

Anyone with even a partial understanding of the sport of hockey, and certainly people who have any fondness or respect for the NHL, should look upon the All-Star Game with nothing but contempt.

Couldn’t agree more. ASG weekend is simply brutal.

Yes, I can see an argument for the skills competition. But it is the only thing even half-watchable the entire weekend. And you can’t shut the league down for a week just for a one-day skills competition. 

Kevin Weekes, Roenick, and whomever else was with them last night were simply unwatchable. It was cringe-inducing. It was so obvious they were trying to make exciting an event which had no real life. Their falseness bordered on laughable.

Roenick talking about how the player taken last in the fantasy draft would have to suck it up, and use it as motivation to play a great game Sunder…please, hand me a bucket.

I just have to tune out the NHL for one week every year. Watch some college hockey instead.

Typical NHL: two steps forward with the Winter Classic, two steps back with the ASG.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 01/29/11 at 01:34 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Sunder = “Sunday”

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 01/29/11 at 01:35 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Disagree.

These guys know that come next week, they’ll have to go back to playing real hockey.  Until then, they’re going to have fun playing a skills exhibition. 

The draft format has brought a new wrinkle to what was a tired formula that didn’t motivate players any more than it motivated fans.  After watching the draft last night, I’m very much looking forward to see how hard Phil Kessel is going to compete after being picked last; I’m very much looking forward to see how much Jonathan Toews works to prove that he shouldn’t have been picked after teammate Patrick Sharp;  I’m very much looking forward to see how the Sedins will play against each other.

I dislike many of the directions the league is going, but I’m starting to think that many people are being so negative just for the sake of negativity.  I can’t say often enough how much I think Gary Bettman needs to be replaced as the league’s commissioners, but I think this All-Star Game format is a winner and would like to give credit where it’s due (to Brendan Shanahan) for finding a way to make this weekend interesting again.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 01/29/11 at 01:44 PM ET

edillac's avatar

at least there is a mini break during the 82 game grind

Posted by edillac from isolation on 01/29/11 at 02:11 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

Eh, I may not like it, but it is a good exposure event, at least in the host city. It still needs improvement for me to watch, but it’s moving in the right direction.

The draft format struck me as silly when I first heard about it, but it became something to talk about and have fun with. The game needs more of that. The presentation needs work, but they seem to be doing more ice-level stuff. More players wired for sound or the use of parabolic microphones would be fantastic. In this game, I don’t thing you’d have to worry much about censoring what is said. For interviews, serious questions are off-limits. Maybe get a comedian in the booth to make wisecracks all game for the broadcasts.

I think I’d even like to see strange rule twists added to the game. Put in a 3-point line or spots on the ice where a scoring a goal is worth more. Call silly penalties and make them all result in a penalty shot. Weird shaped nets. Two-nets at each end. Play one period with your off-hand. Spin around 5 times before face-offs. Puck has to hit the end-boards before you can score. At a random point in the game, two players fight wearing oversize boxing gloves. Whatever wacky rules you can come up with, use em. The more fun and less like a traditional hockey game, the better. It needs to be fun for the players so they want to show up and participate. It needs to be fun for fans, so give them a reason to watch. Something they don’t see everyday beyond a mob of high-talent guys.

It’s not going to be like a traditional hockey game and everyone knows that. So it should be pure entertainment.

But whatever you do, DO NOT follow MLB’s lead with “this one counts.”

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 01/29/11 at 02:11 PM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

It hurts the game.

I find it baffling that Mr. Harris, or any other professional writer makes such a myopic claim.

His whole argument is premised on the fact that the ASG isn’t competitive hockey, and therefore hurts the game in some fashion.

If the weekend event generates exposure, rewards corporate sponsors, and helps strengthen the bottom line - it absolutely does not hurt the game.

Mind you, I’m no fan of Bettman.  But if the league continues to make money, then he will have successfully accomplished his primary mission.

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 01/29/11 at 02:28 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

How can NHL players playing at 50%, with no hitting, and an unrealistic score of 9-8, be good for the game? How does it represent what hockey can be, or is?

If the players had any interest in this they wouldn’t fake or prolong injuries just to miss the event.

As for criticizing the NHL for the sake of criticism, you won’t find any of that here. I’ve been vocal in my support for much of what the league has done since the lockout. But I’m also not going to give the league a pass when they get something wrong.

I love the sport; the NHL is merely the league that provides the highest-level of skill and entertainment for the sport. Hockey can exist without the NHL. The opposite, obviously, is not true.

As such, what’s good for hockey takes precedence over what is sometimes-mistakenly believed to be good for the league.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 01/29/11 at 02:28 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

But if the league continues to make money, then he will have successfully accomplished his primary mission.

Let’s use that line of thinking for the following possible scenarios:

London, Frankfurt, and Stockholm join the NHL in 2018.

Each team is allowed to place three major sponsor logos on their jerseys in 2016. The number will rise to four in 2020.

Arenas are allowed to put advertisements on the ice.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 01/29/11 at 02:33 PM ET

Jon Jordan's avatar

It’s a fun thing for the fans.

I didn’t read the whole piece. Is Stephen Harris here in Raleigh? If he is, and he’s strolled around town at all, he’d know that the people here are having a blast.

The game’s a joke, yes… But jokes are funny... And that’s what this weekend’s all about.

JJ

Posted by Jon Jordan from Tampa, FL on 01/29/11 at 02:35 PM ET

Ajax19's avatar

I don’t like the All-Star game.  It is boring.  I have no interest in it.  The skills competition can be fun and the fantasy draft thing was fine.  I applaud the NHL for trying something new and interesting.  I like the effort.

Like most on this board, I haven’t watched the NHL All-Star game since I was a kid.  But, I think that’s the very reason why Stephen Harris’ argument that the game “hurts” the NHL falls apart.  I loved the game when I was a kid.  I loved focusing on Steve Yzerman or whatever other Wings were in the game.  I liked seeing the different stars play on a line together and all of that.  It was enjoyable.  It wasn’t until later in life that I sort of “came to” and realized what a snoozefest it was.

There are still kids out there who love hockey and love this game.  That alone makes it worthwhile.

Posted by Ajax19 on 01/29/11 at 02:40 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Pee Wee Herman adding extra butter to his popcorn in a movie theater is funny, too…but that doesn’t mean we need to see any more of it smile

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 01/29/11 at 02:40 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

The NHL ASG is so much more about hockey than the Pro Bowl is about football. The NBA ASG is a alley-oop contest, and the MLB ASG is awful, specially since it means something.

But I don’t see anyone trying to say those should be stopped too. A casual fan, or even a not-at-all-fan, knows that any AllStar is miles away from the real sport.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 01/29/11 at 02:43 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

The NHL ASG is so much more about hockey than the Pro Bowl is about football

But that’s like saying “Phylis Diller is so much more attractive than Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies”

Why bother??

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 01/29/11 at 02:46 PM ET

Paul's avatar

JJ, he is there.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 01/29/11 at 02:47 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

But that’s like saying “Phylis Diller is so much more attractive than Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies”

I was referring to the other bit: “How can NHL players playing at 50%, with no hitting, and an unrealistic score of 9-8, be good for the game? How does it represent what hockey can be, or is?”

It isn’t, just like every All-Star event out there (specially the Pro Bowl). The average fan who watches the Pro Bowl knows that that’s not football, and he knows tomorrow’s game is not real hockey.

And the league allowed injured/almost-injured players to rest, so I don’t see a problem there (until someone gets injured in the game, which won’t happen).

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 01/29/11 at 02:51 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

until someone gets injured in the game, which won’t happen

The only way there will be an injury in an NHL ASG will be if a fan falls into a coma while watching, and stumbles down the stairs from the top row.

Or some uninformed non-fan mistakes Zdeno Chara for Bigfoot, and shoots him.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 01/29/11 at 02:55 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

But Red Winger, tell me, why is it bad for the NHL? I agree it’s not useful, and not exactly a good thing, but how does it hurt the sport?

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 01/29/11 at 02:56 PM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

@ Red Winger

I am no fan of the ASG itself.  It is boring, and it isn’t hockey.  I find the skills competition much more enjoyable.

The point I failed to deliver, is that that the ASG is good for the NHL.

If the NHL fails to make money, there is no NHL.

Whether or not that means the ASG is good for hockey is certainly open for debate.

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 01/29/11 at 03:00 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

But Red Winger, tell me, why is it bad for the NHL? I agree it’s not useful, and not exactly a good thing, but how does it hurt the sport?

Because the NHL is in a different spot than the other leagues.

It doesn’t really work when comparing the NHL’s ASG to baseball’s, football’s, or basketball’s, because the NHL is in a different position than those leagues.

The NHL is still in introductory mode with most of North America (sorry, Canada. I know about 90% of your 33 million people love hockey; but the truth is there are 340 million people in the North America the NHL is after, American and Canadian owner alike). The other three major sports are not in that mode, and haven’t been for decades.

So, the ASG is a fun diversion for baseball, basketball, and football; games that most North Americans are knowledgeable of, and have been associated with for a long time. None of the four major sports leagues needs to use something like the ASG to sell its sport more than the NHL. And what the NHL is selling at the ASG is junk. It in no way introduces the great game of hockey to the masses who are still relatively ignorant of this great game.

One period of the USA / Canada Olympic game in Vancouver last year did more for the game of hockey, and indirectly the NHL, than all the All Star Games, combined.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 01/29/11 at 03:07 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

As for criticizing the NHL for the sake of criticism, you won’t find any of that here. I’ve been vocal in my support for much of what the league has done since the lockout. But I’m also not going to give the league a pass when they get something wrong.

Sorry Red Winger, that wasn’t a directed shot at you, but there are a lot of people who I think will hate whatever idea comes out just because it comes out of the league.

How can NHL players playing at 50%, with no hitting, and an unrealistic score of 9-8, be good for the game? How does it represent what hockey can be, or is?

Because it can also showcase that these incredibly skilled people can act like more than super-serious, angry brutes giving stock answers to keep themselves off an opposing team’s bulletin board.

I don’t like much about Matt Duchene and I thought it was nerdy as shit last night when the microphones picked him up making a joke from the players-to-be-selected pool about whether they were kicked off the island, but it was a human moment and it made him a bit more likable to me.  When the players are more likable, the game’s going to get watched by more people. 

That’s how it represents what hockey can be and is.  It’s the same thing that 24/7 did;  It shows that these guys who often give robotic and scripted answers when being asked about things during the long grind of a punishing season are actually real humans and that they have a sense of humor.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 01/29/11 at 03:09 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

That’s how it represents what hockey can be and is.  It’s the same thing that 24/7 did; It shows that these guys who often give robotic and scripted answers when being asked about things during the long grind of a punishing season are actually real humans and that they have a sense of humor.

I agree with much of that, J.J. But I think where we part company is our view of where the game is at this point.

Let’s show people the human side of NHL players once more people know there is an NHL, or what icing is.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 01/29/11 at 03:13 PM ET

Forechecker's avatar

It’s funny to watch sportswriters try to top themselves with their anti-All Star vitriol year after year.

Boo-freaking-hoo. If you don’t like it, don’t watch. But don’t try to push this garbage that it somehow “hurts” the game.

Posted by Forechecker from Nolensville, TN on 01/29/11 at 03:14 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I’m not sure how much more they can do at this point to make the game more visible to people.  I figure that the good they’d do making the players likable and therefore watchable would help drive many of the newer fans to learn about the sport. 

I just don’t think there’s going to be anybody out there who says “I watched this one game after liking Matt Duchene’s answer at the All-Star draft, but that regular game wasn’t anything like the All-Star game… I hate this now!”

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 01/29/11 at 03:41 PM ET

blammo's avatar

The ASG is not for the fans, its for the sponsors. It serves that purpose fine.

I have never watched an ASG, in any league, ever. I watched the Harlem Globetrotters once as a kid, that was enough.

Posted by blammo from Vancouver, BC on 01/29/11 at 05:00 PM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

Wow, what a hater.

I like the all star break.  It’s good lighthearted fun.  Entertaining to pull a pbr or three up to and watch every year.  It’s a break from the monotonous grind of the regular season and it gives players a much needed break to rest up and get healthy for the final stretch leading into the playoffs.

Kind of silly to get all hot and bothered about it if you ask me.

And speaking of hot and bothered, man, granny is HAWT.

Posted by Hippy Dave from Portland by way of Detroit on 01/29/11 at 05:03 PM ET

Baroque's avatar

I don’t care for all-star games in general, thus I choose not to watch them - but I watch the sport the rest of the time and enjoy it. I’m not the target demographic for the events of the weekend, so it doesn’t matter what I think.

And anything that shows more of the personalities of the men who play a game for a living is always a good thing. At best, it promotes the players, their teams, and the sport; at worst, it’s harmless fun for a few days in the middle of the season.

Posted by Baroque from Michigan on 01/29/11 at 09:10 PM ET

Avatar

The ASG’s good for hockey since, if for no other reason, it give the other 250 guys time for bruises and broken toes to heal.

Do I care about it? No. But at least Shanahan’s trying to make it more fun this year. He should be commended just for letting hurt guys opt out without threat of suspension, instead of making them glad-hand stuffy AIG execs while struggling to balance on their crutches.

I don’t know if the game, itself, helps hockey, but I don’t see how it hurts it.

Posted by StevieSteve on 01/29/11 at 09:39 PM ET

Avatar

It has been five freaking days since the last game, enough already!!! The ASG break is brutal!

Posted by timbits on 01/30/11 at 04:10 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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