November 12, 2010
When the new NHL All-Star game format was released this week, we theorized the hasty nature of its revelation was due to the fact that the loose lips at the GM meetings were going to flap about it, forcing the NHL and NHLPA to announce the details before they were all finalized.
The fact is that the announcement had to occur when it did because of the start of fan voting next Monday.
The run-up to the All-Star game is a meticulously planned sequence of events, and that goes for fan balloting as well: One look at the 100-player-strong fan ballot, and names like Mark Streit(notes) of the New York Islanders (who hasn't played this season) and Antti Niemi(notes) of the San Jose Sharks (who has started five games and is 1-4), and one assumes the list was created early in the season and then set in stone because of all the ancillary marketing ventures that are planned for the game. Like this: "During the six-week voting period, each player position will command the stage on the NHL on Facebook page for two weeks."
Fans will vote in three forwards, two defensemen and a goalie that will be labeled "the first all-stars," but won't necessarily start in the All-Star game in Raleigh in January. The starters will be determined after that NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft selects the rosters.
There's been some outcry over the players not included on the 2011 All-Star game ballot. The NHL confirmed to us that any player not on the ballot -- like grand snubs Alex Semin of the Washington Capitals and Patrick Sharp(notes) of the Chicago Blackhawks -- can still be added to the All-Star game when the NHL names another 36 players to the six the fans vote in.
In other words: You don't have to be one of the chosen 100 to eventually play in the All-Star game.
(Of course, there's also a chance for fans to write-in names like Semin and Sharp, but we imagine they'll be too busy trying to spell "Bissonnette" to do so.)
Coming up, a team-by-team breakdown of the 100 players on the NHL All-Star Game ballot, and some of the names that didn't make the cut.
Starting November 15, fans around the world can vote for their top six All-Stars in the 2011 NHL All-Star Fan Balloting. For the fourth straight NHL® All-Star Game, the balloting process is entirely digital, offering sports' most tech-savvy fans the ability to vote as often as they like via mobile devices and online at NHL.com/vote. In addition, fans this season can vote on Facebook (facebook.com/NHL), as the NHL All-Star fan voting process comes to the social networking platform for the first time.
Here's the ballot, broken down by team:
Among those who weren't on it, but obviously should have been were it to be considered a valid document for the 2010-11 season:
Alex Semin, Washington Capitals: Fourth in the league in scoring a second in goals.
Atlanta Thrashers Colorado Avalanche: Ten goals and 17 points overall this season, en route to what should be a career year. (Ed. Note: Thanks to the commenters for pointing out the brainfart.)
Obviously by limiting the ballot to 100 players, the NHL is keeping some names off the ballot for roster-related reasons: Giroux doesn't make the cut, but Pronger and Timonen fill out the D-man corps; Ryan Kesler(notes) is left off for the Vancouver Canucks in favor of Dan Hamhuis(notes) on defense.
But that leads to a question reader Evan Scussel asked:
"Why the heck doesn't the NHL just put everyone on the ballot? The voting is all electronic now, so what's the limitation?"
Answer: There isn't one. But if everyone was on the ballot, you wouldn't have just read this post; nor would you have any reason to talk about the game as you're complaining about the snubs; nor will you have any reason to write in Patrick Sharp or Alex Semin's name, or start a campaign to that end.
Which, despite the new All-Star game fan voting not really meaning much of anything in the new format, is something the NHL (and its sponsors) wouldn't mind you doing multiple times a day ...