Puck Daddy - NHL

If you're anything like us, you have a crippling addiction to polling data for Tuesday's U.S. election. It's possible that we've visited Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight.com more in the last few weeks than we've visited our own relatives in the last few years. Likely voters, registered voters, margins in error, red states, blue counties ... it's like crack rock for political junkies. And Chuck Todd (a.k.a. Murray from "Conchords") is our pusher man.

Perhaps sensing our fondness for anything that gives Chris Matthews a tingle up his leg, the NHL today announced a rather awesome new innovation for its All-Star Game voting: Call it "Real Time with Gary Bettman." From the NHL:

In a first for all major professional sports leagues, the National Hockey League will provide real-time All-Star fan balloting results online at NHL.com. From Nov. 12 through Jan. 2, NHL fans will be able to vote as often as they like in the XM NHL® All-Star Fan Balloting presented by 2K Sports to select the starting lineups for the 2009 NHL All-Star Game in Montreal. 

Fans around the world can vote online via interactive English and French ballots at Vote.NHL.com. Those in the U.S. and Canada also will be able to cast their votes via text message using any wireless carrier. During the voting period, real-time results will be available exclusively on Vote.NHL.com/results. This marks the third consecutive year the All-Star Balloting process is entirely digital.

"By making real-time results available to our fans on NHL.com, we're allowing a level of transparency and engagement that no sports league has ever done," said Brian Jennings, NHL executive vice president for marketing.

"A level of transparency," huh? Wonder how Rory Fitzpatrick feels about that?

Any time all-star game voting is mentioned, our thoughts naturally drift back to the "Vote for Rory" campaign and claims that the numbers had been manipulated by the NHL to keep fans from stuffing the ballot box for journeyman defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick of the Vancouver Canucks.

Should some fan campaign occur again, this "real time" voting might prevent anything like that from happening; assuming puckheads watch the numbers with our typical obsession.

Obviously, there are reasons why "real time" voting can't be used in presidential elections: Huge, coordinated surges of votes at certain times of the day could have psychological effects on the electorate that hasn't voted. It's the same reason why states aren't supposed to be "called" (officially or unofficially) until everyone has voted ... even if the rules are flubbed every election cycle by the networks.

But for the all-star game, all "real time" voting does is encourage ballot-stuffers to vote even more. "Real time" voting is perhaps the greatest improvement for the event since they ditched the teal and eggplant uniforms.

The possibilities are tantalizing. Forget about waiting for weekly vote totals; puckheads can now have daily tracking polls for all-star candidates. Hell, you might be able to link a performance like Mikko Koivu's five-point night for the Minnesota Wild earlier this season to a surge in his vote totals over the next 24 hours.

This is going to be a blast.

So who will become the hockey blogosphere's answer to Chuck Todd or John Zogby?

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