It’s Supposed To Be Fun



People can’t stand All-Star weekend. The game is often called listless, boring, and apathetic. Personally, though…I love the whole thing.

In the old, old days, the All-Star game was held as a once in a while benefit for the families of players who had been severely injured or killed. Since then, the game has undergone a couple of changes-becoming a yearly occurrence in 1948, format changes in 1959 and 1967, and the introduction of the skills competition in 1990. Today, it’s made up of three main parts:

The Draft

I will fully admit that TSN’s coverage of it (and, well, almost anything hockey-related) is overblown, but that’s not the point. It’s just inherently fun to watch people be picked for something. There’s no reason for it to be 2 hours long, but the anticipation of seeing who’s going to be picked last and what the teams will be gives the whole event a fun, innocent feeling. It’s a chance to see the players, often adorned in equipment, away from the game and in a casual enviroment. Sure, they still give somewhat canned interviews, but it’s interesting to see how these guys interact with one another outside of the confines of the rink.

The Skills Competition

Like the draft, the skills competition has that kiddy feel to it-when I was growing up, it was always fun to see who was the fastest skater, who could shoot the hardest, et cetera. It taps into that competitive spirit all of us have, plus all of the events are easily measured, making it easy to say who’s the best of the best.

There’s also the sense of awe that I get when seeing the raw skills on display-sometimes it can be hard for me to comprehend just how fast a player really is or how much control someone really has with a puck (the results of being a defenseman, I guess; shoot hard and skate backwards). It’s also quite funny to see someone screw up (like falling in the corner during the fastest skater competition) while still realizing they’re among the best in the world at what they do: these guys are still human, and I think we fail to realize that from time to time.

The Game

I do have this nostalgic feeling when it comes to the All-Star weekend-coming home from hockey on a Sunday morning, cookies in the oven and on the couch watching my favorite players just score and score and score.

The main complaint people have about the game is that there’s no defense and the game isn’t physical enough, it’s not raw. I often hear the phrase “not real hockey” when it’s talked about, and this pisses me off to no end. “Real hockey” isn’t a romanticized version of the 1950 glory days with Gordie Howe and Maurice Richard. No, real hockey is what you do on the frozen pond, where the only objective is offense, and lots of it. That’s where the game started and that’s why we take to the ODR every winter.

I get why some people want to see the defensive side of the game on display, but that side of the game is, by it’s very nature, stifling and boring. Sure, I like big hits just as much as everyone else, but I like the environment created by the game that allows us to be wowed by things we may otherwise never see more. For me, as a hockey fan and as a player, seeing those things is what makes the whole experience enjoyable.

  • Mitch2

    Not me guys, sorry. The All-Star game is a fun spectacle for young fans but to me it isn’t hockey. You can’t take contact out of hockey and call it hockey. You can’t take defense out of hockey and call it hockey.

    It is the equivalent of an all-star game of NFL players getting together and playing touch football. I guess it is still football.

    There are entertaining aspects and I remember as a young kid how excited I was but it quickly grew into a non-event for me. I don’t see hockey players as celebrities who are amusing to follow, I still see them as players and much more interested in their on-ice play than various comments or clowning around.

    If they not checking, blocking shots and playing Defence it just isn’t hockey to me.

    I honestly started feeling sorry for the Goaltenders getting lit up so much as I got older and the all-star game lost its appeal to me. It is the only hockey game I don’t watch.

    Who knows, maybe the younger generation will take the game to non-contact. Women don’t check after all and neither do kids and believe me if you forbid contact the games will turn “exciting” I guess vbut my thinking is if you find the game boring during the trap era go watch another game.

    If trap hockey is boring what do you call soccer ?

    • SmellOfVictory

      To answer your last question there: I think soccer is boring as sin. Of the sports I’ve tried to watch before, it’s top 3 most boring (essentially tied with golf and baseball).

  • NateBaldwin

    It’s the lack of competition that bothers me.

    And Mitch, saying that you can’t take contact out of hockey and call it hockey got me thinking…

    With the increased frequency of head injuries this year (or perhaps simply the greater awareness of them) maybe the NHL should be looking at the all-star game as an opportunity to test the no contact waters by adding some sort of competative incentive, w/o allowing hitting or contact. While i cant think of how they would implement that offhand, I’m sure the right minds investing energy into that problem could come up with something.

    I don’t know what the sport will look like in five years, but I’ll be quite surprised if the physicality remains the same. I’m afraid I agree with those that adhere to the notion that the game is rapidly becoming too dangerous for its players in its current form. So if change is going to come anyway, why not use the all-star game as a means with which to gauge player, and to some degree fan, opinion. As a fan, I’d rather tune into watch that than to watch a game played at half speed.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    I liked the article. I agree, it is like pond hockey and its nice to see the offensive skill. Where it falls short is the lack of competive spirit, that’s why people don’t watch. They need to make it worth it to try. I think the draft is stupid, go back to east versus west and giving the winning conference home advantage in the stanley cup finals.. The it would be interesting.

  • ville de champignons

    Here’s a different take on team makeup: Take all the guys who are earning 6+ million and put them on team “Slackass” and put fan/media voted all stars on team “Give a Damn”. Then I’d watch.

  • NateBaldwin

    Worst week in Hockey.

    Can’t wait till its over.

    A lot like Bryn Griffiths or what ever his name is from Edmonton who transfered to the fan 960. You can sure tell what color flows in his veins. It aint red. Drives me crazy!