Sadly this year's all-star game is not a collection of the best players on the face of the planet but, rather a testament to which fan base could become an effective political machine in a matter of months.
Montreal and Pittsburgh proved to be the most determined fan-bases, waging a voting war over the internet.
It started with Montreal Canadiens fans cheating the system to have an all-Canadien lineup that would celebrate the club's centenial. Then The Pens Blog and other Penguins Web sites led an effort to snub the Canadiens of any starting slots. The effectiveness of the Penguins mass-texting campaign suggested that Pens fans would also drink Jim Jones kool-aid on command.
The war dragged on for two long months. Many e-bullets were fired, many e-lives lost, and many e-families were displaced. Now the epic internet war has come to an end.
Montreal's ballot stuffing scripts and texting campaigns resulted in 5,675,905 votes for four players, all elected starters. It's safe to say that Montreal is the Tammany Hall of the NHL and the winner of the "the great all-star voting war of 2008."
I'm not big on fan voting but, I understand it's purpose.
When the fans don't have control over the all-star selections they feel cheated when a deserving player isn't recognized. Fan-voting is supposed to prevent this from happening. Fans have an intimate knowledge of their team and therefore should be able to select the "correct" players for the match.
Now that the social experiment has blown back in the NHL's face like pissing into the wind, fan voting should now be limited to "what songs should the organist play during intermission?"
I don't want to see the fan element completely removed, I'd just like to see it implemented better. One example could be to let the fans choose the captains for the game. The NHL would select the teams, release the rosters and then voting would begin on which players would be the captains.
I see no harm in that. Fans get to have their say and we don't have to go through this ever again.