Fan balloting to select players for any event has always kind of annoyed me. We look at this year’s announcement of the 2012 All-Star Game Fan Ballot, and you notice some names that really don’t belong.  Of the 127 players placed onto the NHL All-Star Game fan ballot, maybe only about 3/4ths of them even deserve to be considered.

As a frame of reference, each team needs 12 forwards, 6 defensemen, and three goaltenders (since they play one each period for this special format game). That leaves forty-six selected players out of the 127.

Greg Wyshynski said it best when he wrote:

“This brings us back to the annual debate about what the All-Star Game is “supposed” to be. If it’s a chance to see the NHL’s most famous names skate together and compete in skills competitions, then a guy like Sid belongs on the ballot. If it’s supposed to honor performances from the first half of the season … well, he might still get in the game depending on when and how he returns, but shouldn’t be on the ballot right now (nor should Marc Staal for that matter).”

In my opinion, Crosby/Stall should not even be considered All-Stars for a season if they have yet to play a single game. In the same vein, Umberger and Eric Stall haven’t quite put up career numbers to start the season and Jeff Carter has only played five games. On defense, P.K. Subban has been giving the puck away a bit too much, Ryan Whitney has only played four games, and Zidlicky has really only provided a few decent hits in the games I’ve seen the Wild play this season.

My disdain for the NHL’s selection process doesn’t stop with other teams, it applies to the Sabres as well. Miller hasn’t played half as well as some of the goaltenders on that list, and Tyler Myers is off to a start just slightly better than last year’s sophomore slump. Neither should have been included on the ballot, and there is a miniscule chance either will be selected in the top six.

I wouldn’t necessarily get so fired up about these kinds of things, but living in Buffalo, fan balloting has always put our

A rare example of fan balloting working in a small-market's favor.

players at a disadvantage. With almost all the other cities having a larger population, it is extremely difficult to have the quantity of votes needed to get our guys in as “starters” (with the exception of our Briere/Miller/Campbell starter combo a few years ago). Coupled with the fact that Pittsburgh and Washington typically can field an entire line of their own players on a ballot (regardless of how well they’ve played), it seems a little off-center.

I understand the All-Star Game is just for fun, but the league should not stand quietly on the line between the true all-stars for a season and the “faces of the league” that they love to promote. Players like Ottawa’s Milan Michalek and (gasp) Toronto’s Phil Kessel are the ones who should be front and center come January 29th.

Give credit where credit is due. Let the media vote the best players in, and ignore the ones who haven’t even stepped foot on the ice more than five times this season.

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