Tonight the lowly Pacific Division’s team, captained by MVP John Scott (2 goals), won the NHL All-Star event and took home $1 million as the prize. The event was actually entertaining. Mini-games kept our attention span deprived minds focused just long enough and still allowed for beer and bathroom breaks. John Scott’s presence gave us the underdog to root for, and also the hope that he could stick it to the man like we all love to see. There was plenty of cash on the line as well and the players seemed to recognize it. Even our own beloved Patrice Bergeron put on a national clinic on how to back check and swallow up any loose puck. All four teams really put forth a real great effort, especially the goalies, and it all led to a chance-for-chance swapping 1-0 championship game.
I’d always found the traditional All-Star game a waste of time and tonight validated that for me. The old format was rarely entertaining, the players never put in any effort, and two and half hours of that does nothing for anyone including the league itself. I’m not even sure the last time I paid attention to the All-Star Game before this year. But John Scott and 3-on-3 saved the day today.
Aside from the obvious, that the NHL needs to stick to the mini-game format for this event, if I were the league (which they won’t because they’re stuffy suits) they should allow for one fan write-in voted player to attend every year. The playing format was a success, but without John Scott I probably would have continued my tradition of not tuning in. But Nashville absolutely loved Scott right in Gary Bettman’s face. He received standing ovations, MVP chants, and brought the “celebration of hockey” feel to the event. Everyone needed that. We didn’t need the high brow, country club, integrity of the game attitude to dominate a game that means absolutely nothing.
P.K. Subban said it best Saturday at the skills competition when he stated, “In my opinion, this is the new NHL and what it’s all about,” said Subban. “You look at professional sports, the more athletes can engage in fan bases and interact with the fan base, the more you’re going to get out of it. The more you’re going to get out of your league, the more revenues are going to grow, in my opinion.”
“That’s the game now. Fans want to interact with players and get to know them.”
He’s exactly right. And when fans voted in John Scott that’s what made the event. That’s what people cared about. We all know Scott’s not an All-Star, but we all know that the game and event itself has been a waste of time for a real long time. This was about a fan base engaging with a player, selecting who they wanted to see even if some felt it was a joke, and enjoying it. As all the players on the ice showed by happily embracing John Scott, it absolutely worked.
So here’s to hoping something similar can happen next year in L.A. Keep it 3-on-3 and let the fans vote in a common man for all of us to root for. Bring in a fan favorite. Celebrate the game like they did this weekend.