John Scott is now a household name... Let that sink in for a minute. The gentle giant who was voted in as Captain of the All Star game last weekend turned everything on its ear, and made the "joke" a reality. He BECAME the All Star event, and gave everyone exactly what they were looking for.
One thing that a lot of people forget, is that the goons and 4th line players were at one point or another one of the best players on their team in their evolution as hockey players. As much as some believe they have no place in the game, nobody can take away from them the hard work and effort they put in to get where they are. We often scoff that hockey players don't care about the game anymore, that it's all about the money now, and say in the same breath that the plugs who make the league minimum on 2-way contracts have no place? This makes no sense. The John Scott's of the league (generally) don't get the money, or endorsements. They play less than 10 minutes a night, are often asked to lay the big hits and get in fights, putting their future at risk. (Concussions, anyone?) If anything, these are the players who show the most actual love for the game.
But I digress. How does the NHL take this weekend, and instead of burying it in the history books and moving on as if it never happened? Knowing Bettman, he'll point to this years' success and say nothing needs to change. But change does need to happen, and let's look at what is like to see happen.
1. Make the All-Star Game BIGGER
What do I mean by bigger? Should the NHL decide to keep with the fan voting for participants, but wants to avoid the "embarrassment" of having a roster of John Scott's, give the fans a short list of nominees from each team. Fans choose one, and they go to the ASG. BUT then there's a fan vote via Twitter for your teams' "unsung hero". A player NOT on the short list provided by the league, but a player who plays harder than some on your team, and in the eyes of fans, are just as loved as the stars on your team. (Tie Dominican would have been a shoeing, for example... Loved by fans, never would be considered All Star calibre) These players also go to the ASG. This allows for 2 players per team. If there have to be replacements, replacements come from the vote. Toews can't play? Whichever list he was on, the next voted from the same team goes. No more loading up the game with hometown players.
2. Bring Back the Fantasy Draft
With the new 3on3 format, we'll need 4 captains divided by Conference. Team One captained by the NHL short list players with the most votes, the other captained by the Fan voted player. Then it's build the teams as per usual. These teams will have a fantastic mix of skill AND heart, and will make for a great game.
3. TWO Individual awards at the end of the games
You can have the MVP like this year, where the league puts up a short list, and fans vote for MVP. 2nd award goes to the Fan Favourite, a free will vote from the fans for a player not on the short list. This allows for players like John Scott to take an individual award, without the embarrassment of getting it via fan pressure after being left off the short list. I'm sure there would be no shortage of sponsors for this award.
I think these could make for an All Star game which loses none of its lustre should there be any "odd" fan voting. What are your thoughts? Any ideas to make this event better?