From the Dark Side
All-Star games? I’m not sure we’ve had one of those since 1987 when an NBA Eastern team with Doc, MJ, Bird, Moses, and ‘Nique, defeated a west squad consisting of Magic, Hakeem, Worthy, Kareem, and one Tom Chambers. Yes, Tom Chambers who was filling in for Ralph Sampson and went on to score 34 in the west’s 154-149 OT victory. That game featured 13 future hall of famers. It was a game full of ultra-competitive superstars wanting nothing more than to win. Do you think Jordan and Bird enjoyed losing that game? Not a chance. Those games were classic and a joy to watch.
Flash forward to today, and I wake up to an NHL “All-Star” game score of 17-12! What?! Was this hockey? Did they play with open nets for three periods? Were two lucky fans selected by Allstate Insurance to play the role of the mayhem guy and suit up in goal for 60 minutes getting pelted by little black pucks? No, as far as I could tell, these were actual NHL all-stars, actually spending a night in Columbus, Ohio, to the delight of 18,000 onlookers, and not a soul more. Team Toews (I think they need to use spell check) defeated a Team Foligno (no idea what that is) in what will go down surely as an instant classic. Yeah, right.
Now granted, I’m no hockey expert. Growing up on the west coast, I never played the sport, never really followed a professional team. My knowledge of hockey centered around Lake Placid, 1980, and the Miracle on Ice. Up to that point, ice was what went into my big gulp cup after soccer practice. But I can now hold my own at the water cooler when talking about ‘Ovi’ and the Caps, or the Winter Classic, which was a fantastic game. I’m also knowledgeable enough to know that hockey games do not involve 29 goals! I read somewhere that this year’s all-star game was meant to be a “celebration of the game”. What? A celebration of the game? What game? Last time I looked, a game involves offense, defense, strategy, maybe even somebody breaking a sweat. There was even a fake fight. WWE would have been proud. I doubt the fans, including this one, were. Come on NHL, you are better than this.
All-Star games, unfortunately, have been trending this way for the past few years. But at least the other pro leagues have tried to stop this madness. The MLB all-star game plays for home field advantage in the World Series. That’s worth something. The NBA is entertaining due to the fact that points are encouraged to be scored! Fans love an old fashioned 159-153 NBA game. MLS (yes, America does have a professional soccer league) has their all-stars play an international club team filled with many of the world’s best players. This year it was Bayern Munich after Germany just won the World Cup. At least we get a little U-S-A, U-S-A, us vs. them, thing going. I like that. Why don’t we bring over the Red Army squad from Moscow to challenge our NHLers? At least then, it might become more of a game, rather than an All-Star vacation. But hey, at least ‘Ovi’ had three assists.