Kukla's Korner Hockey
by @DaveDavisHockey on 01/31/11 at 11:24 AM ET
Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has promised that NHL All-Star weekend 2012 in Canada’s capital will be a “once-in-a-lifetime, weekend long celebration of all that is great about hockey, the NHL and our city.”
Considering the wonderful job done by the folks in Raleigh who just staged a great show for the fans this past weekend, those are some big words.
But, much to the dismay of intolerant hockey purists and shortsighted all-star game detractors everywhere, one thing Melnyk hasn’t promised is a David Backes vs. Zdeno Chara slugfest.
We’re a year away from the festivities at Scotiabank Place, which means we’re a year away from the obligatory week long bashfest of the event by some mainstream media people who apparently weren’t required to take business and marketing classes in journalism school.
Thanks for telling us that this annual game is a lousy one with no hitting or 98-mph slap shots, but we already know that. Whine and complain to your heart’s desire, and suggest every different format that your imagination can generate, but it won’t change the fact that millionaire athletes are never going to butt heads and risk injury in any game not affecting the standings or awarding a medal - especially now that Jeremy Roenick is out of the league.
“People understand that the all-star game is not like a regular season or a playoff game,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said back in September during the announcement of Ottawa as host city for the 2012 game. “The events ... are really a bringing together of the NHL family, along with our fans here and a celebration of our sport.”
All-Star weekend has evolved into so much more than the game. Between the fun of the fantasy draft and the pure enjoyment of the SuperSkills competition, the game itself for many has almost become an afterthought. And you know what? There are a whole lot of hockey fanatics out there who are totally cool with that.
There are also an adequate number of deep-pocketed sponsors, a major part of the “NHL family” to which Bettman was referring, that are fine with it too. And in case you didn’t know, since we’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars, that’s kind of important.
It’s the simple reality that many naysayers, with tunnel vision focused squarely towards the action on the ice, either don’t get or choose to ignore. In major league professional sports, corporate dollars are the gas that runs the car.
Good luck to the organizers in Ottawa in your efforts to top or match this past weekend. You’ve got your work cut out for you.
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