I have a confession to make: I went to the NHL official site today and voted five times for all six Habs on the All-Star ballot.
There…that feels good. Glad to have it off my chest. I thought about it first, I swear. I thought about the inevitable accusation that Habs’ fans in their thousands will abuse the NHL voting privilege that was intended for half-interested US fans to feel like they have a democratic right to choose who will stand at the blueline for the anthems in the meaningless All-Star match. I thought about how ethical it would be to vote for Alex Kovalev over Alex Ovechkin, when I know who’s the better player. I even thought about the fact that some players would just as soon skip the All-Star game anyway. I thought…then I decided I don’t care. I don’t care because I imagined Michel Lacroix announcing the starting lineup at the Bell Centre.
"Starting at centre, numero onze, number eleven, SAAAAKKKUUUU KOOOOIIIIIVUUUU!" And the Bell going crazy. Standing ovation for two minutes. Then, "On right wing, numero vingt-sept, number twenty-seven…ALEX KO-VAAAAAAA-LEVVVVVV!" And the crowd on its feet, bellowing incoherently. And finally…"IN GOAL, numero trente-et-une, number 31…" by which time you can no longer actually hear Lacroix, but you know he’s saying, "CAAAA-REEEEEE PRIIIIIICE!!!!"
It sounded good to me in my imagination. No, actually…it sounded great. How many years have we spent cheering on our one "token" Hab at these stupid games? Token, because by tradition every team must be represented at the Game, and there were so many years when the Habs had no one worth sending, but had to send someone anyway. I want the fans of the team I love to send our guys out there for the introductions and to start the game that they originated in the first place.
The big guilt I had was wondering what if they don’t deserve it? What if we’re blinded by the colours and vote them in because they’re ours, not because they’re the best…which is what the vote was intended to do? I thought about that and I thought, Kovalev, Koivu, Tanguay, Markov and Price are among the very most skilled players in the East. That’s why the team is doing so well. Komisarek isn’t exactly the typical All-Star guy. But I thought, why should a guy who excels in hits and blocked shots NOT have a spot in the All-Star game? Aren’t those skills as important to winning as scoring tons of goals or making fancy passes? Of course they are. So, all the Habs’ players are worthy of making this team. More than worthy.
Just imagine: If you’ve ever seen those youtube videos of Kovalev’s tricks, picture him in the accuracy shooting contest. He can pick the corners with one hand. That would be so much fun to watch in the skills competetion. And do you think he wouldn’t come up with some miracle move in the shootout competition? I think he’d spend nights up designing one. Price would stone guys in the shootout. Tanguay would be laying pretty passes on the sticks of guys like Ovechkin all night. It would be beautiful.
And you know what decided me to say the hell with it and vote my heart? The All-Star game means nothing. It’s a spectacle. It’s only meant to generate publicity for the league. And what could offer more publicity than an entire All-Star starting lineup made up of the team in its hundredth year in its home rink? Not much.
So, vote early and vote often. Let’s have a starting All-Star lineup of Habs. What the hell…it may never happen again. And damn, would it ever be fun to watch!