The NHL has announced its 2015 All-Star lineup. The gurus have spoken. Some fans are not happy. They feel strongly that their favorite player on their favorite team got robbed. Here are few names of note. Do you feel they were robbed by the All-Star selection gurus?
Marc-Andre Fleury is the goalie for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He is having a good season, particularly in light of the injuries that the Pens have had and the mumps-related challenges. He’s not at the top of the list of goalies in stats currently, but his Penguins are in 2nd place – 1 point behind the New York Islanders in the Metropolitan Division with 56 points. It is very arguable that his play has kept Pittsburgh at or near the top of the division all season.
Sure Marc-Andre Fleury has a recent history of choking on the big stage. But, that should not have any weight on whether or not he should be seriously considered for the All Star team. One fan on Facebook put it this way:
“The fact that MA Fleury didn’t make the All-Star game proves what a joke this whole process is. Playing on a team crushed with injuries, yet he has stats in all the major categories that are among the best. He is the reason Pittsburgh is among the top teams in the east. Just shut down the all-star game, because nobody knows how to select the deserving individuals to play in it anymore.”
That may be a bit harsh, but it does go to show that some fans think that Marc-Andre Fleury was robbed.
With Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard out with a groin injury, perhaps Fleury will get named as his replacement. Sean Gentille of The Sporting News wrote today that this would make good sense. We will see if it works out for Fleury. In the meantime, how do you feel about his being excluded?
A Capital Robbery
Where is Nicklas Backstrom on the list of All-Stars? He has 13 goals and 29 assists for 42 points thus far this season. That is 11th in total points. He is a +4 and has 3 game-winning goals. Should Backstrom not be included on the All-Star team with the season he is having?
— Neil Greenberg (@ngreenberg) January 12, 2015
So the NHL wants to rep every team with a player. Is that a good idea? Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers was selected as an All-Star in the center position. He has 11 goals and 14 assists for a total of 25 points. He is a -5 and has 1 game-winning goal. Under the system as it is currently configured, he is representing his team. But, is that coming at the expense of a center like Nicklas Backstrom? Is Backstrom being robbed of a spot?
One of the more controversial snubs by the NHL All-Star gurus was that of PK Subban. The Montreal Canadiens defenseman is a fan favorite. He is having another good year, with 8 goals and 19 assists so far. He is ranked 10th among all defensemen. He is a +10 and has 3 game-winning goals. Not bad for a defenseman.
The “player from every team” bug bites again here. The team I cover, the Carolina Hurricanes, is being represented by Justin Faulk. I like Faulk a lot, and while his numbers are not that far removed from Subban’s (except in +/-), it just somehow doesn’t feel right that PK has been overlooked for a spot on the All-Star team.
Some think there are definite reasons the NHL doesn’t want PK Subban on the All Star roster:
— Mike (@Mike_Habs) January 11, 2015
I’m not sure I agree that the NHL doesn’t want to have fun, but like I said, leaving off one of the league’s most popular players just feels strange. Dave Lozo of Bleacher Report wrote a great piece on January 12th that the only All-Star game snub that really matters is PK. My colleague with The Hockey Writers, Brian Sklar, wrote on January 10th about “The Top 5 Biggest All-Star Snubs of 2015.” His list did not include Subban, but did include Backstrom. Sklar went on to say about the process as a whole,
“As far as the selection process, I don’t know if the fans should have the power anymore to select players.”
Therein lies all-star problem?
The fans got to pick 6 players for the All Star team. That is a large percentage of the overall 42. When a process like voting on American Idol delivers 5 players from the Chicago Blackhawks out of the 6 voted on by the fans, there you go. No offense, Buffalo Sabres, but did you really vote to send Zemgus Girgensons to the All-Star game?
My intention is not to dismiss anyone who was selected. If Sabres fans voted their beloved Girgensons onto the team, then more power to him. Apparently they do think highly of him in Buffalo:
— Buffalo Sabres Stats (@SabresStats) January 8, 2015
But, as is the case with the all-star games in other sports, the credibility of the NHL All-Star game is potentially at risk. There are many fan favorites who are arguably well-deserving of a spot on the all-star roster. Should the fans make the decision? Is it really ultimately about the fans and their being entertained?
How do you feel about the NHL All-Star selections? Let me here from you, especially if you feel like your favorite player was robbed by the NHL All-Star gurus.
Mark lives in the Raleigh, NC area and covers the Carolina Hurricanes.