By the end of tomorrow night, all of the interesting All-Star events will be over. Between the Fantasy Draft and Skills Competition, the NHL All-Star weekend is more front-loaded than Christian Ehrhoff’s contract.
Last night’s fantasy draft was equally entertaining as last year’s. Having the players mic’d up is a stroke of brilliance and gave just as many gems as 2011. It would be hard to argue that Pat Kane’s comment on the blond jersey presenter could be topped. Nor could you argue that the comment was to be expected from a guy like Kane.
Logan Couture joined Phil Kessel as the last pick in the draft. The NHL made a wise change this season, rather than letting Couture stew by himself in his seat, they brought up him and Jamie Benn to the stage. Thus eliminating the ultra-awkward photo-op for the final pick. Couture is now the proud new owner of Honda’s ugliest production vehicle.
Some Sabres fans seemed to care deeply about where Jason Pominville was to be selected. Couture – who is a Bills fan – saved him from the humility and fans from worrying. Considering the stage in which this took place, would it really have been that big of a deal? Sure, it would have sucked for the representative from this underachieving team to go last in the draft. But he is still one of the best players in the league, there is a reason he was selected to the original pool of players. Not to mention, the players don’t seem to place too much stock in the All-Star game, so I’m sure they could care less about where they’re taken in the draft. Trust me, these guys could care less where they’re picked.
If there needs to be any change to the draft, to curb any worrying fans about their guys going dead last, it should revolve around injury replacements. Simply add a rule that the players from the original pool need to be picked prior to those who are injury replacements. The original pool of 48 were selected for a reason, honor that selection. The injury replacements are indeed All-Stars, but they weren’t the first choice, so they shouldn’t be chosen first.
Truthfully, the draft was a brilliant addition by the league. The All-Star game will always be pretty boring. It would be great to find a way to add some meaning, but short of pulling what MLB does I don’t see any such solution out there. Adding the draft not only allows for numerous variations of rosters, but it also gives fans the reason to be interested in the entire event – even if the game remains secondary. The Fantasy Draft isn’t exactly must-see TV, but it is certainly one of those NHL events that you want to catch even for a few minutes.
Tomorrow’s Skills Competition has the same television draw as the Fantasy Draft but adds a bit more excitement. Comparing the level of interest I have between the actual game and the Skills Competition is like asking me to compare Carrie Underwood and getting poked in the eye with thorns.
With the Skills Competition you have the world’s most gifted athletes doing fairly common tasks for their sport, just at a high level. The hardest shot contest is getting really dry, but the breakaway relay and breakaway contest are cool contests. Fastest skater comes as advertised, so does accuracy, but they both are captivating to watch.
Here lies my problem with the All-Star event. The game isn’t very captivating. The Fantasy Draft has its own sort of magic and the Skills Competition has branded itself as a yearly treat. However, watching the All-Star game is old hat. You know the score will be in the 12-10 neighborhood and will have all the compete level of a Thursday evening pick-up game.
As I said, it would be great to see a change made to the game to raise the interest level a bit. The MLB route is stupid; don’t fiddle with home-ice advantage. But there has to be some change that can be made to this format to make the game equally as exciting as the two events that precede it.