December 16, 2008
I originally had this as a note at the end of the Campbell post, but I think it deserves its own spotlight: After all the malarkey that went down with robo-votes and text-message ballot box stuffing this season, the NHL should be absolutely ashamed of itself for promoting the fact that Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins is "threatening to break Jaromir Jagr's all-time record for the most votes received in one year of NHL All-Star fan balloting."
Crosby has 801,585 votes as of 3:44 p.m. EST this afternoon. Jagr set the record of 1,020,736 in 2000, when he was with the Penguins and Crosby was 13 years old. That was four years before Facebook was launched, for crying out loud.
Forget the usual harangues about Crosby getting special treatment from the NHL, even though they're bound to surface again here. The real issue is something that I've heard from a few outraged readers over e-mail recently: That the NHL needs to admit in these all-star game press releases that the vote totals have been inflated this year; either through illegal means that have since been "corrected" or through new technologies that allow fans to vote for an entire block of players with one cell phone text message.
How does this release mention that the "Montreal Canadiens continued to dominate the voting on the blue line and in goal" without even mentioning that the NHL has to edit those vote totals earlier this season?
Look, it's just all-star voting. I get that. But what we're asking for is a modicum of integrity here from the NHL. It's no different than if a player breaks a significant season scoring record, and the League reminds fans that there were only six teams and 70 games when it was originally set. It's just context, that's all.
Or as PD reader "~jai~" said on the Campbell comment thread: "... it's like taking today's $10 movie tickets and talking smack when your movie beats out a hit from 1980 when tickets were less than $3."
But this is part of a larger pattern for the NHL, isn't it? Ignoring the context here is the same as ignoring the context when the League crows about attendance records set with two-for-one deals and packages that reduce tickets to bargain-basement prices in many cities. Inflated numbers, inflated egos ... hey, whatever pushes the product, right?