Like every all-star event in every sport, there’s been conversation after conversation about which players were snubbed of the chance to play in the mid-season classic. For me, it was Toronto’s Frederik Andersen.
While questions of why he wasn’t named to the team circulate, a bigger question remains on the table – who really cares?
Making a Case for Frederik Andersen
The reason for Andersen missing out on the all-star festivities is simple – every NHL team has to be represented at all-star weekend. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if Carey Price wasn’t added to the team based – almost solely – on the team he plays for?
Here’s how the two netminders matchup. At the moment, Andersen has a 22-13-3 record in 38 games for the Leafs. Over that span he’s earned a 2.67 goals against average and .922 save percentage while facing the most shots of any goaltender in the league at 1,303.
In Montreal, Price has tallied a 13-14-4 record in 31 games for the Canadiens. Add that to his 2.95 goals against and .908 save percentage and it’s clear that the 30-year-old is struggling by his standards. It’s also evident that Andersen is having the better year so far.
So would you consider him a snub? Sure. But who really cares?
The NHL All-Star Game, a League Parody
You see, it used to mean something for a player to be named to the NHL All-Star Game. It meant that he was having an impressive year and was being recognized for finding himself among the league’s best.
That isn’t the case anymore. I mean, I understand the need to get fans involved. Hence the introduction of the fan vote. And I certainly understand the league’s need for ratings – which explains why every team needs to be represented. But what they’ve done by introducing these two key cogs in today’s all-star game is create a laughable backyard-type of pond hockey that means nothing to those named to its rosters.
In fact, over the past number of years, the league has had to punish players for missing the game if they didn’t miss any team action leading up to the prestigious all-star affair.
Now, if you choose not to go to the game, but don’t miss any time leading up to it, a player is suspended one game by the NHL.
The game has seen numerous changes over the years – including some to the skills competition – from a fantasy draft with the players to divisional three-on-three games. Heck, even John Scott found his way into All-Star Weekend in Nashville during the 2015-16 season – a vote-in that forced the league to make even more changes to who fans could vote into the special event.
Still, the game is almost a shoulder-shrugging moment to a lot of diehard hockey fans.
Don’t get me wrong, I was at the event when Nashville hosted it and while I didn’t mind the atmosphere, the game itself simply doesn’t live up to the efforts of the city it’s hosted by.
Can Tampa Recharge the All-Star Storm?
Now, Tampa Bay and the Lightning organization is set to host the event. The skills competition was up to it’s same old tricks with Erik Karlsson cheating his way through the relay and Brad Marchand making a mockery of the target shooting – even after staying on the invite list following his five-game suspension.
And while fans will pile into the arena – with a chance to see most of the game’s top stars all in one place – the game really hasn’t gained any more traction than it’s had over the past five (or maybe, ten) years.
In the end, we can talk about the Leafs’ netminder all we want and how he deserves to be there. Heck, pick your all-star snub and write all the reasons he deserves to be there. But who really cares?
After all, when you look at a player’s career accomplishments from this generation and read the words all-star, it doesn’t have the same meaning as it did when guys like Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky played in the game. In fact, I’d argue it doesn’t have much meaning at all. Let’s face it, all these players did was win a popularity contest whether it was deserving or not.
Have thoughts about the column? Let me know on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes or @Tape2TapeTHW.
Tape2Tape is a column looking at some of the biggest stories from around the world of hockey. Discussing different topics, it focuses on delivering some opinion to hockey’s biggest fans. Whether you agree or disagree, we would love to hear your thoughts.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.