Rotisserie by the Numbers
All-Star choices prove to be very dubiousPosted: Tuesday January 21, 2003 5:25 PM
By Craig Rondinone, SportsTicker
The fans and the coaches did another bang-up job picking this season's All-Stars, huh?
You just look at some of the players who made the team and are shocked, mystified, stupefied, flabbergasted and downright embarrassed at the choices that were made. You look at some of the names missing from the rosters and say to yourself, "Gee, now I know why two teams in the league just declared bankruptcy, why attendance is down and why hockey is a distant fourth on the popularity chart in the United States."
The NHL just doesn't get it.
What exactly is the criteria for making the All-Star Team? You do not need to have one player from each team (Phoenix, Buffalo and Nashville did not have any players make the cut), but certain guys seem to have made the team just because the NHL wanted their teams to be represented.
I agree that defense should play a role in some of the selections, but do not take a defenseman who is a barely a plus on the season and has not even scored a goal while overlooking defensemen who are in the top 10 in defenseman scoring. Do not leave out the third-highest goal scorer in the league because he is on a terrible team that is partially to blame for his dreadful plus-minus.
And please, although this is a game for the fans, can we not have them have 100 percent of the votes when it comes to selecting the starters? Can we give them 33 percent of the vote and allow general managers and players to also get 33 percent each of the vote, like the NFL does for their Pro Bowl?
As you can tell, I am hotter than Craig MacTavish after having a mascot stick his six-foot tongue in his ear all night.
The NHL should ask the most knowledgeable hockey fans on the face of the earth to pick the All-Star teams for them -- the fantasy hockey owners. Then the game would be filled with excitement, spectacular saves, electrifying moves and superb skating, while more deserving people would be playing instead of sitting at home watching the contest on the boob tube.
Here are some of the players who made the All-Star teams who should not have and which players should be in their places:
Flub: Nikolai Khabibulin, Lightning: Give the fans credit. Who would have thought they would have chosen a goalie from Tampa Bay? But do not give them too much credit, for "The Bulin Wall" has had many cracks in it this season. His 2.79 goals against average and .903 save percentage are nowhere near the leaders in each category, and he has been especially easy to beat as of late.
Snub: Patrick Lalime, Senators: Lalime has been the backbone of the best team in the Eastern Conference during the first half of the season. He is currently third in the NHL in victories and shutouts and ninth in GAA.
Flub: Brian Leetch, Rangers: Leetch is always a perennial All-Star, although you would have thought that fans would have noticed by now that Leetch has not played the past month and a half because of his mysterious bruised ankle.
Snub: Tom Poti, Rangers: His 34 points are not only tied for fourth among defensemen, but they lead the Rangers, surprising since Eric Lindros, Petr Nedved, Bobby Holik and Pavel Bure are on the team. He has played extremely well in Leetch's absence.
Flub: Scott Stevens, Devils: Yes, New Jersey is playing great hockey and should be well-repped at the All-Star Game. Yes, Stevens is one of the better defensive defensemen in the game, even if he is a senior citizen. But he has no goals, just six assists, and for as sound as he is defensively, he is only a plus-6 on the season.
Snub: Dan Boyle, Lightning: After finally escaping Mike Keenan's doghouse in Florida, Boyle has emerged as a super-solid offensive defenseman with Tampa Bay. He has seven more goals and 18 more assists than Stevens, and his plus-minus is exactly the same.
Flub: Jeremy Roenick, Flyers: Philadelphia is having a great season so far, so some Flyer has to make the team, so why not their leading scorer, right? Roenick has 32 points and is a plus-13 in 44 games. Nice, but not what you would label an All-Star.
Snub: Olli Jokinen, Panthers: "The Joker," like Boyle, escaped Keenan's doghouse and is having a solid season, although unlike Boyle, he is still with Keenan in Florida. He is being worked to death by "Iron Mike," playing 20 minutes per night, and has scored 23 goals in 45 contests while playing with the likes of Jaroslav Bednar and Valeri Bure.
Flub: Jeff O' Neill, Hurricanes: His nine power-play goals are OK. His minus-13 rating is not. Having 36 points in 48 games is OK. Being tied for 51st in the league in scoring is not.
Snub: Alexander Mogilny, Maple Leafs: One of fantasy hockey's biggest cancers has stayed relatively healthy this season and has 49 points in 43 games to show for his injury-freeness. He should be on the squad.
Flub: Patrick Roy, Avalanche: Roy is a god, but he has been a mere mortal this season. His inconsistent goaltending was one of the reasons Bob Hartley got fired. Even Roy acknowledges that he probably should not have made the team. The fans went 0-for-2 with their netminder choices.
Snub: Dan Cloutier, Canucks: His 24 wins are second in the NHL and are one of the reasons why Vancouver has been among the elite in the Western Conference this season.
Flub: Eric Brewer, Oilers: I know he is an underrated defenseman and I know he has improved offensively (16 points) and I know it would be nice for Edmonton to have a player on the team. Still, this pick makes fans want to yawn.
Snub: Andy Delmore, Predators: How about Nashville gets a rep at the game? Does the NHL have something against country music and grits? This power-play specialist leads all defensemen with 15 goals, and his 12 power-play goals are more than any other defenseman has scored this season overall.
Flub: Jarome Iginla, Flames: Last season's scoring champion should be at the All-Star Game ... if he was having a superstar season, but he is not. He has been nagged by injuries and has been a shell of the 2001-02 version of himself. If you picked him first overall in your draft your fantasy team is probably in languishing in last place.
Snub: Pavol Demitra, Blues: He has 46 points in 44 games. If you average over a point a game in the NHL nowadays, you should be in.
Flub: Teemu Selanne, Sharks: For the second year in a row, San Jose fans have stuffed the ballot box to make sure "The Finnish Flash" made the team, and for the second year in a row he deserved to make it as much as Tie Domi did. Thirty-seven points in 46 games is nothing special.
Snub: Milan Hejduk, Avalanche: Would baseball not include the seventh-ranked RBI man in their All-Star Game? Would the NBA shun their seventh-leading scorer in their All-Star Game? Somehow, Hejduk did not make the cut, even though he is seventh in the NHL in scoring. I guess too many Colorado players had already made the team.
I did not even mention "Tricky" Dick Tarnstrom, Daniel Alfredsson and Sergei Zubov. They all have strong cases for making their respective teams. Let's hope some players sit out and allow some of the more deserving players to make the trip.
Penalty ShotsThe Mario Lemieux Award for excellence at getting injured this week goes to Philly's Justin Williams, who tore his ACL and is now probably done for the season. He was not giving fantasy owners much to chew on in the way of offense lately, anyway, so this does not exactly rock the foundations of fantasy hockey. This just means more ice time for the mediocre Joe Sacco and Mark Greig. Wonderful.
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