Maple Leafs: NHL All-Star Robbery

The NHL has done a below average job at marketing and maintaining the integrity of the All- Star game by turning the weekend into a business model. 

By that, I mean the All-Star game is less about celebrating the leagues most talented players and more about turning a profit. The players don’t care about the game as much as they used to, and it certainly does not carry the same weight as it once did to be claimed an “NHL All-Star.” Listen, any All-star game that includes Leo Komarov needs to be seriously reconsidered for the future (2016).  

I do think that the All-Star game has potential to be entertaining if done correctly but I don’t see any scenario where the NHL is going to revert to where it once was. The skills competition will always be fun. The recipe is simple. Very minimal risk of injury, competitiveness, and the love for a good challenge. All three of these things make the skills part of the ASG worth watching as anyone can win at any given time. 

I think it is a shame that players who are having career years are unable to celebrated. Five of the league’s top fifteen scorers are not in the All-star game. That’s an issue. 

Nathan Mackinnon (NHL All-star) was quoted saying that NHL’s rule on having one player per team at the game is “silly.” Clearly it is a topic of discussion amongst NHL players. There are many teams that have more than one All-star worthy player on their roster who fall victim to being left out of the event. Toronto, Tampa, Florida, just to name a few.

Is it not ironic that the NHL changed this rule a few years back to boost the viewership for this game while simultaneously diluting the talent in which fans are watching? They obviously do not see it that way. Sure, maybe a few more Ottawa Senator fans will tune in to the game to see Drake Batherson play 5 minutes, but I would be amiss if those same fans did not tune in to watch Brad Marchand and Nazeem Kadri. I would argue that this “rule” hurts the NHL more than it helps, as fans are left with a sour taste in their mouth not being able to watch some of their favourite players who are clearly All-star worthy. The real problem with the ASG is not even about who is selected per se, but more about the game itself. There is so much money intertwined with these players, and no one is willing to risk an injury for something that really does not matter. 

William Nylander has 37 points so far this season. He is three points shy of being in the top 25 entering the All-star game. His numbers speak volumes as he is on pace for a career year and has clearly been one of the most important Maple Leafs this season. I do not believe that points are the only contributing factor as to who goes to the game, but I do think that players who are having the best season of their career AND are inside the top 25 in total points, DESERVE to go. 

Unfortunately for hockey fans, the NHL is known for being stuck in their ways and the chances of them figuring out a better way to run the ASG is a tall ask. Maybe this year will spark a change as more NHL players begin to speak out. Until then, enjoy watching Auston Matthews captain the Atlantic division.