Monday, January 28, 2008


Rich Chere is Wrong

On the day of the NHL All Star Game, in yesterday's Star Ledger, Rich Chere wrote that the event should be scrapped in that A) no one cares and B) the star power isn't there.
None of those formats [East vs. West, World vs. North America, etc.] has been very good. Most of them have been awful and the reason is simple: If a game doesn't count for something, virtually no one cares. The players don't care and hockey fans above the age of 12 don't care.
Huh. I didn't know the All Star Game ever counted for something. I also didn't know I didn't care either. Granted, I didn't stay up late at night hoping the day would get there; but I watched it on TV. Given his article, I take it Chere didn't watch the game, which was too bad for him as it was a very exciting game. Here's what he missed:
So what if the game doesn't count or whether or not it's memorable? That's not the point. The point is to showcase the top players in the league and put on an exciting game for the fans. Not a life-changing event, not something that everyone just has to see, not an attempt at recreating a playoff game (or the fabled OLD TIME HOCKEY™ from an era that fewer and fewer have witnessed) - just a good game and make a lot of money and promotion for the league. Done and done, by my count. Why that is a bad thing, I truly do not know.

The stars of the NHL may not be as established as the stars in other sports; but the people know of Ovechkin, Staal, Nash, Kopitar, DiPietro, Lecavalier, Getzlaf, and many others. It's not their fault they aren't household names across the world - the NHL can do only so much as it is, what with hockey still remaining as a niche sport. Nevertheless, as James Mirtle points out, the game did sell out and got plenty of sponsorships out of it. Clearly, somebody recognizes the players as stars.

What if they get hurt? What, we're supposed to wrap up players in bubble wrap now and hold their hands as they could get hurt doing something as simple as going for a jog or driving a car? They enjoy it, the fans enjoy it, so what's the big deal? As far as I'm concerned James Mirtle summed it up perfectly as to why it's not going away: it makes the league money and gets them publicity. That's why it won't go away and that's why Chere is wrong to suggest scrapping the whole event entirely.

UPDATE: Of course, someone beats me to it and frames it in a much more complete way than I do. Well played, Schnookie, well played. But seriously, it's a good read - even though I disagree about the accuracy shootout being better than the standard one.

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Hey John,
I agree with your argument against what Chere says, but what about what Marty said:
"Before, we had more older players who had been around. They'd try to make the nice play. People would complain that they weren't trying hard, so now you have young guys coming in just firing 100 mile-per-hour top shelf. With the deflections in front, I'm thinking, 'Guys, take it easy. We all have to go back to our teams. No one needs to get hurt here.'"

So do you think there is a generational aspect to the game? So when you mentioned the idea that "Old Time Hockey" is just that, a thing of the past, (and I agree with you)are you also disagreeing with what Marty said? Or do you think he's got a point here?

I watched the All-Star game and enjoyed it, but I did think to myself, "This would be so much better if they were actually playing defense and putting bodies on guys." So, with Marty's thoughts in mind I guess I would expect the players to play the game that they always do. I think he's right by saying they should try to set up good plays, but I haven't exactly seen shooters go after garbage goals.

Any thoughts?
Hey John -- thanks for the link! I'm glad to hear we're not the only ones who enjoy meaningless, exhibition hockey. It really drives me batty to hear the media guys griping about it. It's like they're personally offended that the game isn't about them finding scoops or controversies or some huge journalistic narrative. Who does it hurt to have a little break in the season, a little time to celebrate the players who are having great seasons, some time for the muckety-mucks and the sponsors of the league to hobnob amongst themselves, and some time for the fans to see a one-off event? It just doesn't seem to me like it should be some huge deal that the game itself isn't a classic, well-played 60 minutes of brilliant, fundamentally sound hockey.
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