The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/13/11 at 05:08 PM ET
Updated with a take on the issue from SI’s Darren Eliot at 5:56 PM: Attention Red Wings fans: If you wish to vote your favorite Wings into the starting lineup of the NHL’s All-Star game, there’s good news: the NHL’s latest updates in their fan balloting place Nickals Lidstrom in fourth place among defensemen’s votes (about 115,000 short of Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson) and Jimmy Howard in eighth place among goaltenders, way up from where he was prior to WRIF’s Meltdown’s campaign [edit: following those started by Winging it in Motown and Nightmare on Helm Street /end edit] to rock the Howard vote. Keep the votes coming!
Update: SI’s Darren Eliot talked about Howard’s status as a ballot snub this afternoon:
Still, while far be it for me to say that any of the goaltending brethren don’t belong on the ballot, Jimmy Howard’s exclusion raises the debate. I mean, Howard leads the NHL in wins, ranks second in goalsagainst and has been the most consistent of all starters thus far. And unlike Brian Elliott and his otherworldly season to date, this is Howard’s third consecutive season posting big numbers for Detroit. In St. Louis, the thought was that Elliott, hopefully, could back up Jaroslav Halak who, by the way, is on the All-Star ballot. Which is kind of the point. Nothing against Halak, but he isn’t even the top performer on his team. His last two seasons as a starter didn’t yield 30 wins, or playoff appearances. Meanwhile, Howard has two-straight 37-win campaigns on which he is building.
It is the perfect scenario to at least get ballot recognition. I know, body of work goes a long way in these fan-voting events, thus the inclusion of Nik Khabibulin of Edmonton, Miikka Kiprusoff or Calgary and Tomas Vokoun or Washington. None of these guys have been truly relevant in ages. They play a lot and have served as legitimate number one netminders for a long time. Got it.
But, how then do you explain James Reimer of the Maple Leafs? Injured most of the current season, Reimer’s body of work remains a nice half-season showing for an out of contention team. Good start to his NHL career and good for the Leafs to have found hope in goal, but All-Star? Yes, you will find Reimer’s name on the All-Star ballot, but not Howard’s.
Again, nothing against James Reimer, or the trio of vets that I mentioned above. This is about Jimmy Howard’s omission. What does it stem from? Well, it probably has little to do with Howard and more to do with his being the starter for the Red Wings. It is a tough position in the scope of Detroit sports. Ask Chris Osgood. He won Stanley Cups and posted 401 career wins and still people will say his winning had more to do with his teams being strong than his excellence.
Howard inherits that hard-to-please mantle in Motown as the Red Wings’ go-to goaltender. He has handled the job remarkably well. That local perspective may have impacted the larger view, specifically his All-Star ballot inclusion. The best part is that the “snub” has had a galvanizing impact on the fan base with a local drive time host on the iconic WRIF—“the riff”—organizing a grass roots write-in campaign on Howard’s behalf.
At the very least, Howard not being on the ballot has sparked more positive talk about his outstanding play than usual. And that is a good thing. After all, recognition, even if it comes grudgingly, has to begin at home.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.