THE SHOOTERS PERSPECTIVE
“Because he's the hero the NHL deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll criticize him. Because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight.” - Every NHL Player when speaking about Alex Ovechkin.
The NHL All-Star game has already become the “Some Stars” game as the NHL battles to appease every fan base by adding at least one player so every team is represented at a game that’s viewership likely rivals that of a Florida Panthers vs. Carolina Hurricanes game on a Wednesday afternoon in July. The All-Star game has already lost some of its luster and after some failed attempts to jump start the game, the players draft and now 3 on 3 hockey, the game continues to flounder.
Now not only is the league trying to force players to compete in a game that means less than nothing they’re trying to hide the meaninglessness behind a $90,000 cheque to each player of the winning team. The game at this point is a joke, so much so, that after fans voted John Scott into the game the league has done everything in their power to ensure that never happens again. To add insult to injury the league has now mandated if you choose to miss the “most important” game of the season you’ll be forced to serve a mandatory one-game suspension. Now just imagine if the NHL was as concerned with player safety as they are with the All-Star game.
Luckily for every NHL player, Alex Ovechkin stepped up and decided for himself that the All-Star game didn’t matter. Alex decided his quest for a second Stanley Cup was far more important than a single exhibition game. Alex decided that he’d rather set at home and get some much needed rest rather than be paraded around by the NHL through interviews, Skills Competitions and finally the All-Star game itself.
This is hopefully a step in the right direction for all players in the league and hopefully it empowers other players to make a similar decision. The All-Star Game used to be viewed as an honour where the best players in the game got a chance to play head-to-head in an actual hockey game, but now we get a chance to watch a 3-on-3 skills competition.
How can we even consider this an All-Star Game when players like Brayden Point, Morgan Reilly, Mitch Marner, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Jeff Skinner and Mark Stone aren’t on an ASG roster? And that’s just the Atlantic Division. This problem is extrapolated over the rest of the league and even goes on to potentially cost players like Patrik Laine a significant bonus of almost $200,000 on his ELC.
So how can we fix NHL All-Star weekend?
First off let’s scrap individual representatives from each NHL team. Who cares if each team is represented? How can a goalie with a save percentage of .909 get the nod over a guy with a .920 only because his team doesn’t have anyone else? Let’s get the best players in the game on the ice and represent the game for what it actually is.
So, thank you Alex Ovechkin for being the Hero the NHL deserves for standing up to a game that just isn’t worth your time or energy anymore.