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January 22, 2019
by Michael Menser Dell, Editor-in-Chief
The NHL All-Star Game is really a whole bunch of nothing, so there's little point in getting all bent out of shape about it, but it continues to be an annual showcase for the league's incompetence.
For some reason, Gary Bettman and his merry buffoons insist on making it mandatory that each team has a representative in the game. The ridiculous rule pretty much guarantees we'll never see the best 42 players in hockey. But who cares about rewarding excellence and highlighting the game's best talent? It's more important to make certain no one's feelings get hurt. Because I'm sure if there isn't a Predator in the All-Star Game, both hockey fans in Nashville will refuse to watch the broadcast. Yeah, like anyone will be able to find it on Versus anyway.
The Eastern Conference roster is stacked. It's tough to argue with any of the forward selections, with the obvious exception of one Mr. Scott Gomez. Currently 37th in league scoring with 10 goals and 40 points in 44 games, Gomez gets invited over the likes of Evgeni Malkin, Mats Sundin, Olli Jokinen, and Marc Savard.
Gomez, of course, is the Rangers' only representative, so he has to be there, because it simply wouldn't be an All-Star Game without Scott Gomez. Yes, sir, all those New York hockey fans will be wearing their Gomez jerseys and tuning in specifically to see their hero. I mean, if it's one thing New York fans appreciate, it's one-dimensional players who sign as free agents for ungodly sums of money and then help lead the Blueshirts to last place in the division.
Malkin should be there. He's been great this year for Pittsburgh, posting 20 goals and 48 points in 43 games. He also just happens to be one of the most exciting players in the league. I can guarantee there are more hockey fans in New York who want to watch Malkin than Gomez, and they probably wish they could do it on a nightly basis.
On defense, Kimmo Timonen seems an odd choice. He has five goals and 20 points, but he's a minus-2, and the Flyers already have Mike Richards on the team, so that's more than enough. If you invite too many Flyers, someone's bound to get suspended. But if you leave Timonon in Philly, Michal Rozsival could go in his place, thus meeting the Ranger requirement. And Rozsival is having a swell first half, with 11 goals and 30 points. But if Rozsival is there, that means Gomez can get the boot, opening the door for Malkin. So really, it's all Timonen's fault. (Sunshine) you, Timonen!
Rick DiPietro and Tomas Vokoun will be backing up Martin Brodeur in net. Both deserve recognition, but what does Timmy Thomas have to do to make the team? I reckon the injuries hurt his cause. No one is going to argue he's a better goaltender than DiPietro, but he is leading the conference with a .930 save percentage and is second to Brodeur with a 2.33 goals-against average.
Out West, Roberto Luongo was voted into the starting lineup, but he'll skip the game to spend time with his pregnant wife. That's nice of him. When I get a girl pregnant, I usually just give her a fake phone number.
Since Luongo won't be there, Manny Legace, Chris Osgood, and Evgeni Nabokov will be manning the pipes. It's tough to argue with any of those picks, although Pascal Leclaire could easily replace Legace. Wait, he can't. The Blues don't have any other reps. Isn't sharing wonderful? A starter hasn't been named yet, but expect Osgood to get the nod since it will only further aggravate me.
The Western blue line is loaded with the usual names: Lidstrom, Phaneuf, Pronger, Zubov, Jovanovski, Keith? huh? Duncan Keith? Who cancelled? Listen, Keith is a nice guy and all, and he's a good young defenseman, but he's got five goals and 17 points in 44 games. That's fine, but there are a least a dozen more deserving defenders, including Brian Rafalski, who's second in the conference with seven goals and 37 points.
But again, Keith has to be there because Chicago doesn't have anyone else. Yeah, that's right, rookie phenom Patrick Kane didn't make the team. Unless voted into the starting lineup, it's impossible for rookies to make the All-Star squad. Instead, they get forced into the Young Stars Game. Kane is an All-Star. He earned the right to play with the big boys, leading the Hawks with nine goals and 39 points. And he's exactly the kind of player the league should be highlighting during the All-Star Game. But why would the NHL want to do something that makes sense? There's comfort in stupidity.
The only glaring mistake among the Western forward ranks is Jason Arnott. Again, Nashville has to have a representative, so Arnott gets the ticket, even though guys like Mike Ribeiro, Kristian Huselius, Daniel Sedin, Brenden Morrow, Daymond Langkow, Corey Perry, Dustin Brown, and Brad Boyes are all more deserving. Of the group, Daniel Sedin would provide the best story, because it's always nice having Swedish twins.
EASTERN CONFERENCE 2007-08 Statistics GOALTENDERS GP W L OT GAA All-Star * Martin Brodeur, New Jersey 38 23 13 2 2.11 10th Rick DiPietro, NY Islanders 37 16 14 5 2.52 1st Tomas Vokoun, Florida 39 19 17 2 2.65 2nd DEFENSEMEN GP G A Pts All-Star * Andrei Markov, Montreal 43 11 19 30 1st * Zdeno Chara, Boston 43 6 20 26 3rd Brian Campbell, Buffalo 42 4 24 28 2nd Sergei Gonchar, Pittsburgh 39 7 27 34 4th Tomas Kaberle, Toronto 44 6 21 27 3rd Kimmo Timonen, Philadelphia 39 5 15 20 3rd FORWARDS GP G A Pts All-Star * Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh 43 18 41 59 2nd * Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay 44 28 35 63 3rd * Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa 41 26 30 56 5th Scott Gomez, NY Rangers 44 10 30 40 2nd Dany Heatley, Ottawa 42 25 30 55 3rd Marian Hossa, Atlanta 42 16 22 38 4th Ilya Kovalchuk, Atlanta 45 36 25 61 2nd Alex Ovechkin, Washington 43 32 20 52 2nd Mike Richards, Philadelphia 41 19 28 47 1st Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay 44 17 34 51 4th Jason Spezza, Ottawa 36 15 37 52 1st Eric Staal, Carolina 46 23 18 41 2nd WESTERN CONFERENCE 2007-08 Statistics GOALTENDERS GP W L OT GAA All-Star Manny Legace, St. Louis 30 16 10 2 2.06 1st Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose 41 23 12 6 2.01 2nd Chris Osgood, Detroit 23 19 2 1 1.68 2nd DEFENSEMEN GP G A Pts All-Star * Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit 44 4 36 40 10th * Dion Phaneuf, Calgary 44 6 23 29 2nd Ed Jovanovski, Phoenix 40 3 22 25 5th Duncan Keith, Chicago 43 5 12 17 1st Chris Pronger, Anaheim 46 9 23 32 5th Sergei Zubov, Dallas 43 4 31 35 4th FORWARDS GP G A Pts All-Star * Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit 39 26 28 54 2nd * Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit 44 17 36 53 2nd * Jarome Iginla, Calgary 44 32 28 60 4th Jason Arnott, Nashville 41 15 21 36 2nd Marian Gaborik, Minnesota 37 21 19 40 2nd Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim 44 17 31 48 1st Shawn Horcoff, Edmonton 44 18 21 39 1st Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles 44 17 23 40 1st Rick Nash, Columbus Blue 41 22 15 37 3rd Henrik Sedin, Vancouver 42 7 35 42 1st Paul Stastny, Colorado 43 15 29 44 1st Joe Thornton, San Jose 41 13 33 46 5th * denotes starter