In The End, All-Star Draft Was A Bore
For many NHL fans, there were really three or four story lines. Which player would be selected first? Would the Sedin twins be forced to play against each other? Where would their favorite player land? And, of course, which player would be selected last.
With Sidney Crosby out of the All-Star festivities many expected Alex Ovechkin to be selected first—which didn’t happen (congrats Steven Stamkos!). To the surprise of many, Carolina Hurricane captain Eric Staal (who would captain one of the All-Star teams) showed a ton of loyalty when he selected Hurricane teammate Cam Ward as the first overall selection.
The Sedin twins would end up on separate teams, which sets up what may very well be the first time these two players will be separated on the ice since they left the womb.
While there were a number of surprises along the way, few were surprised to see Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel selected last. Numerous mock drafts had the hard luck sniper being selected last, which probably didn’t sit well with Kessel, or Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke.
Needless to say, as much as the All-Stars down played the possibility of being picked last, nobody wanted to see themselves alone in the final seat. Kessel, who smiled and joked around once it was obvious he would be the last pick, handled himself with class and grace—Alex Ovechkin on the other hand, handled it like a two-year old.
Already having to handle carrying the load of being the last pick, Kessel was subjected to Ovechkin snapping a number of pictures of Kessel on his Blackberry—the same device he was using throughout most of the draft, looking completely disinterested and smug.
Now don’t get me wrong, each player is entitled to handle the draft any way they want, but was it really necessary for Ovechkin to rub it in?
Nobody wants to be laughed at, nobody wants to be singled out as the last guy picked and nobody deserves to be mocked.
My only regret is that this draft didn’t happen in another era where NHL players reserved a certain amount of hate for each other.
Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe, Phil Esposito—none of these guys would have let Ovechkin get away with what he did, none of them would have let the other players run a muck with Kessel’s character and all of these players would have made an effort not to select their enemies and foes.
Were Ovechkin’s actions over the top? Probably not, but there sure as hell was an air of immaturity and arrogance to them. Ask yourself this: if the shoe was on the other foot, do you think Ovechkin would have handled things as well as Kessel did? Do you think Ovechkin would have tolerated another player mocking him by taking pictures of him on their BlackBerry and snickering?
I know there are more than a few Maple Leaf fans that would love to see Ovechkin get nailed for his indiscretion, sadly the All-Star game is little more than a light scrimmage where players rarely get nudged, never mind being hit.
Maybe that’s why the draft sucked. There is no hate between players these days, few rivalries, few storylines that would have influenced which players team captains Nik Lidstrom and Eric Staal selected.
Maybe the NHL should have made Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger captain with Dustin Byfuglien picking the other team. Both players have as many fans as they do enemies, and I am sure they would have drawn lines in the sand where their picks were concerned.
It’s not often a bounty is put on an NHL players head, it says here Brian Burke ought to be making a few phone calls with regard to Ovechkin (the first one being to Dion Phaneuf, who, as the captain as the Maple Leafs, should send Ovechkin a message the next time they face each other)…we’ll see who’s snapping pictures and making snide remarks before long…
Until next time,