The starters for the 2011 All-Star Game have been released, and wow, what variety there is. Only two cities, Chicago and Pittsburgh, can claim players so far. Does this strike anyone else as lopsided and fairly dumb? Pittsburgh is having a solid season so far, tied for second in the NHL with 53 points with Philadelphia and Detroit. Chicago is currently in 9th place in the Western Conference, stuck in a slump and still reeling from losing a quarter of their team (whether they admit it or not).
Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin, Jonathan Toews, Kris Letang, Duncan Keith, and Marc-Andre Fleury are the starters for this year's ASG.Yep, three centers are starting. While I'm not saying these guys are bad player, because they're not, do they all deserve to start this year's All-Star Game?
Sidney Crosby does for sure. He's blowing everyone out of the water with 65 points so far (32 goals and 33 assists). Jonathan Toews isn't having the season that Crosby is - there are twelve centers separating Crosby's 65 points from Toews' 35. Malkin sits at 33 points and 19th overall in scoring. For centers. For everyone, Toews ranks 25th and Malkin is 35th.
Kris Letang's having a solid year defensively, not only having 33 points so far on the season, but also rating an outstanding +20. Keith is a -7 (677th in the league) and has just three goals and 21 assists. Marc-Andre Fleury? Yeah, he has the fifth best GAA in the league (2.31), but he has the 12th best save percentage with a .918..
Are there better choices for the starters? Absolutely - Tim Thomas, Dustin Byfuglien, Steven Stamkos, the creepy Sedin twins, Martin St. Louis, Jonathan Quick, Nicklas Lidstrom, Tobias Enstrom... cripes, half of the ballot was a better choice than Keith. So, why'd these guys get picked? Whiny analysis after the jump.
People are homers. Look at the Montreal ASG. Even after the vote-bots were figured out, forward Alexei Kovalev, defensemen Andrei Markov and Mike Komisarek, and goaltender Carey Price were all voted in as starters. Big name markets have the voting power to get their guys in the game, and there aren't many bigger than Chicago and Pittsburgh. All these people vote en masse, and here you have a lopsided line-up that isn't made of the best in the league, and isn't even made necessarily of the best of the teams that the starters play for. Does Tampa Bay have a huge voting base? No. Other people know of Stamkos and think he's worthy of starting - I voted for the guy - but do as many people realize how great he is versus the number of people who know who Toews is in the Chicago metro area? No. You don't have a representation of who is best in the league; you have a popularity contest that negates the point of having an all-star game to begin with.
Maybe once the captains pick the teams THE NIGHT BEFORE THE GAME (which is something else that bothers me, but whatever), things'll go from being a bunch of BFFs together to guys who can play the sport and win a game. Then again, the other guys to choose from also come from the ballot, so who knows. How does all of this get accomplished? Saith the NHL:
These six players will be joined in Raleigh by 36 additional All-Stars, who will be unveiled on Tuesday, Jan. 11. Also that day, 12 NHL Rookies will be selected to participate with the NHL All-Stars in the Honda NHL SuperSkills® on Sat., Jan. 29 at the RBC Center. Rookies will be selected from the pool of players in the League who qualify as Rookies, and who are eligible to win the Calder Trophy.
Once the selection of the 42 All-Star players is complete, the players themselves will decide which two All-Stars will become team captains as well as four alternate captains, two for each team. Approximately two weeks from today, the captains will be revealed, at which time team names will be designated as the last name of each respective captain.
Oooh, Team Sidney! Team Alex! It's like Twilight up in here. My question for the debate this week's becoming less "should fans vote for the starters?" and more "Should we even bother with this overcomplicated BS?" Answer either in the comments - debate away!