Who Should Detroit Send to the All-Star Game? How About No One?


Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday featured an announcement that voting had closed for the first-ballot 2015 NHL All-Stars. Who made the cut? Five guys from the same team and an unheard of player from the Sabers due to an entire country voting for him (and unconfirmed reports of a Die Hard-like hostage situation with demands that Zemgus Girgensons go to the ASG). As I tolerate the bragging from my roommate, a Blackhawks fan, I wonder who Detroit should send. I quickly come to the conclusion that it is in Detroit’s best interest to send… oh, you already saw the headline didn’t you?

Let me be the first to admit that I don’t care much for the All-Star Game. So much so that it’s happening a mile from my house and I do not plan on attending (ok, 15 miles). All-Star Games tend to be a total let down. The hockey just isn’t all that great. Little if any hitting, zero defense, and the players just don’t take it seriously. And why should they? The game means nothing. It’s a chance to be an ambassador for the sport, smile for a thousand pictures, and goof off for the weekend. If Alex Ovechkin blows by you and scores a goal, what difference does it make? You go out, have some fun, and do your best not to tire yourself out or injury yourself.

So who is Detroit in a position to send? If you look at the top 20 in points for the league, you will not find a single Red Wing among them (Zetterberg is 21st as of Saturday Morning). You could make an argument that Nyquist and Tatar are among the most entertaining players in the game today, sure. But does that put them in the top 24 among forwards? It’s tough to say. You could justify Zetterberg and maybe even Datsyuk as true All-Stars, but given what their seasons were like last year, I’d much rather they had the break to rest and recover. Franzen hasn’t had a particularly good year, and the Red Wings’ defense and goaltending? Nothing to write home about.

Nearly every team in the league has players that you could argue belong in that top tier of players and most recognizable in the game (even Arizona… maybe). At a certain point you have to ask, what is the benefit of the Red Wings sending players to said All-Star Game? Do the Red Wings, as a team, stand to gain anything by sending these players to an event like this? Or could these five days off be better spent with say, watching film of their upcoming opponents? Resting to better prevent injuries in the last leg of the season? Some quality time with Mike Babcock and other coaching staff on how to win a damn shootout? I don’t know everything players do to prepare for an opponent, but I imagine that even a foot massage would be better for the team than a trip to the All-Star weekend. (Editor’s Note: Sounds like someone never played the game…)

This presents a similar situation to last year, when I wondered whether Pavel Datsyuk, fresh off a knee injury, really had the team’s best interest at heart. He hadn’t been in the line up for the Red Wings but was going to captain the Russian Olympic team. I wondered something similar when Henrick Zetterberg was too injured to play in more than one game for Team Sweden. While players certainly have a life outside of the Red Wings winning the Stanley Cup, some things can serve as a bit of a detriment. At least in the case of the Olympics you can argue how important it is to a player to represent his country, and you get a very entertaining product out of it (as disappointing as Team USA may be at times). In the case of the ASG, you don’t even get the benefit of a cool game to watch. Don’t get me wrong, the skills competition is awesome. But I would have a hard time justifying paying top dollar to watch the NHL’s best give 50% in a game where the outcome is ultimately meaningless. Does anyone even remember who won the last All-Star game?

Existence of the All-Star Game aside, I’m sure I’m not its target audience. That’s fine. Let the Blackhawks send half the damn roster. No fan base would be crazy enough to hang a banner recognizing a regular-season accomplishment like that anyway. I’d much rather see the Red Wings preparing for a post-season that results in a banner. After all, the Kings didn’t send anyone to the All-Star Game last year, and it seems like it worked out pretty well for them.

(If you can’t pick up on the sarcasm of that last statement, there is no hope for you.)