When NHL fans voted John Scott into the All-Star Game this season*, one thing was clear. No, not that the chances for an All-Star Game fight have dramatically increased – that the NHL was definitely going to limit the fan influence for subsequent editions of the midseason classic.
On Saturday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported how the NHL might limit those options:
"You're going to see a situation where the League decides if it’s going to be that the fans just have a portion of the vote – not all of the captaincy votes – or could it just be that there's a list online that you're going to be able to vote from. I think it’s pretty safe to say we're not going to see the same kind of all out voting that we saw this year and what it resulted in with the captaincies."
Guess you live and learn. Three reactions:
1. To the NHL’s credit, it appears “get rid of the fan vote” isn’t one of the options. Mostly because it would basically mean “get rid of the All-Star Game, because what’s the point?”
2. The John Scott thing never happens if the NHL hadn’t allowed fans to vote for any player with ease. Had the league limited voting to, say, five forwards for each team, Scott wouldn’t have been one of the options. And while prankster anarchy is a heck of a motivator, asking them to write in a candidate as often as it would take to flood the ballot box … well, that’s a whole lot of Mountain Dew consumption right there.
3. All that said, I’ve suspected that another factor in the John Scott campaign was that there were a lot of NHL fans that simply weren’t engaged in the All-Star process.
There have been so many format changes that fans have no idea what they’re voting for anymore. And the fact is that in those format changes, we’ve gone from voting in 12 players in the traditional East/West format to six players in the Fantasy Draft format to four players this season. The less you involve them, the less they’ll be involved, and the less they’re involved, the more likely it is that that process gets hijacked by a group of ballot-stuffers.
And let’s face it: No matter what the NHL does, there’s always going to be some level of fan hijacking. It may not be on a John Scott or a Rory Fitzpatrick level. Maybe it’s Milan Michalek getting more votes than every player but Alfredsson and Spezza in 2010. Maybe it’s Mike Komisarek (yes, Mike Komisarek) getting voted in back in 2009 with over 1.3 million votes.
It’s the fans’ game, no matter how much you try to take that away from them for better or worse.
* In full disclosure, we played a part in that campaign.
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