Fan Voting Ruining All-Star Game

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The NHL, like almost every professional sports league, is constantly looking for ways to increase fan interaction. One of their ideas was to introduce fan voting to the NHL All-Star game. This concept has been used by the NFL for years and has had great success at increasing fan participation. While the NFL has been under criticism over the last few years over the entertainment value of the Pro Bowl, the idea of involving fans in the process still is a positive. 

Limited fan voting for the All-Star game was introduced to the NHL in the mid 1970s. However, it was not until the 1985 All-Star game (the 37th game) that fans were allowed to choose the entire starting lineup. Ever since the introduction the voting process has been tweaked and has grown to a much larger ordeal than before. While there are issues with the fan voting system, the positives had outweighed the negatives.

I say had because this current round of voting is destroying the credibility of the “All-Star” title. My position is not as a Pittsburgh Penguins fan but as a general hockey fan. As my fellow editor pointed out the Pittsburgh Penguins have players within the top five of all three categories (forwards, defensemen and goaltenders).

My argument is not that the Pittsburgh Penguins stars should be higher in the voting but the players who are at the top of the voting frankly do not deserve to be. If voting were to end today the top players would be Zemgus Girgensons, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews for the forwards, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook for defenders and Corey Crawford at goaltender. Yes, four of those five play for the Chicago Blackhawks and it is painfully obvious that the Chicago fans are voting more than every other fanbase.

Dec 21, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) left wing Patrick Sharp (10) center Jonathan Toews (19) celebrate with goalie Antti Raanta (31) a win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the end of their NHL game at United Center. Blackhawks won 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Normally this is not an issue but each of those players are having good seasons, they all are not the best at their respective positions. Kane and Crawford both are having excellent seasons and their play most certainly merits a spot in the top five, but the other three(Keith, Toews and Seabrook) are purely because of the fan base.

Zemgus Gigensons is another blatant reason why the fan voting is ruining this seasons All-Star game. The 20 year old Latvian is having a fine season for the Buffalo Sabres with 18 points (9 G – 9 A) in 34 games. However, those are not the numbers of a superstar who deserves to be the top player in the All-Star voting. Yet, he is running away with the voting because almost the entire country of Latvia continues to spam votes for him.

Obviously as a Pittsburgh Penguins fan I would love to see Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury higher on the list. Their respective positions as of now are perfectly acceptable in my mind. As all four are having phenomenal seasons despite the injury riddled Pittsburgh Penguins’ roster.

My issue with the fan voting this year is players like Vladimir Tarasenko, Steven Stamkos, Tyler Seguin, Rick Nash and dare I even say Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux all should be much higher on the list. The list of players who deserve All-Star recognition does not stop there but sadly because of fan voting most of them will not receive credit for their work.

Nov 4, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers right wing Jakub Voracek (93) waves to the fans after the game against the Edmonton Oilers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Fllyers defeated the Oilers 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The All-Star designation is supposed to recognize the best players in the league and those who are most vital to their team’s success. The mere fact that four of the five current leaders are Blackhawks destroys the credibility of the title for this season. If Chicago truly did have the best players at every position they would be running away with the Central division, but they simply are not. While they are atop of their division they still sit behind the Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks for the most points in the league. The Ducks lead the league with 51 points and much of their success is due to Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry who are currently third from last and last in the published list of vote receivers.

If the All-Star rosters turn out how they are looking now, I personally believe that the designation of “All-Star” for the 2014-2015 season deserves an asterisk next to it. This is still in-spite of the fact that many Pittsburgh Penguins are among the top vote recipients.