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Thoughts on the All-Star Weekend



In the past, I’ve followed and commented on a number of threads on this site regarding bloggers’ thoughts on the All-Star Game and the weekend festivities. The sentiment I’m finding is that the event needs to be rescheduled, reworked, combined with the Winter Classic, or just plain cancelled entirely. It seems that the arguments bloggers have made for the change is the lack of entertainment value.

I kept this in mind as I watched the festivities all weekend long and I have to disagree with every post. Everyone knows this is a low-intensity, slow-moving, high scoring game with little or no hits, shoves, toe saves, dangles, and dekes…in other words, it’s exactly the opposite of what we’ve come to love about this sport. However, while watching the Fantasy Draft, the Super Skills Competition, and the game itself, and lamenting on how silly and childish the whole affair was, did anyone happen to catch the smiles on the faces of every one of the players? Half of the players on the ice were recording the event with cameras and cell phones.

These guys spend the whole season jawing at each other, gritting their teeth, fighting, slashing, elbowing, roughing, boarding, cross-checking, tripping, and for the most part hating each other all for the opportunity to win the Stanley Cup. The All-Star weekend gives them a chance to breathe a bit, settle down, and remember why they started playing this game in the first place.

We’ve come to expect 110% performance during every single game, and we’re upset when we don’t see it. These guys are human too, and it’s fun to see the lighter side of their jobs. I welcome the capes and the sunglasses; the mini hockey sticks and the Tebow-ing goaltenders. I think they’re fantastic. Every last one of those guys was beaming ear to ear. In fact, when was the last time you saw an NHL goalie smiling through his mask after being scored on three times in one period? The All-Star game is the only chance these guys have to play the game the way it was originally intended…a congregation of friends, new and old, enjoying a few hours together.

It’s been said the All-Star game is “for the fans.” It’s also “for the kids.” I’ve even heard that the All-Star game is “for the sponsors.” But I think a good portion of it is still for the players themselves. It’s a fresh change of pace to a light-hearted, whimsical weekend of fun and hockey bloopers. In fact, the only thing I would say is to lighten up the rules! Let the defense clear the puck by picking it up and throwing it over the blue line! Let Patrick Kane wear his cape through the whole game! Let the goalie turn the net around so it faces the back boards! Not only that, but I want to see goalies take some penalty shots with forwards guarding the net! Can you imagine Pavel Datsyuk dangling the puck around three skaters wearing one of those giant green foam cowboy hats? Of course you haven’t, but now that I’ve mentioned it, you’re thinking about it, and you kinda want to see it too. There should be some raucous laughter in those stands and on the benches. This game doesn’t count for anything but fun. True enough, in capitalist fashion, as long as people watch, money will be made, so I doubt the sponsors will care. Might as well have a few laughs.

This is a game. And just occasionally, it must be treated as such.


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