Hoo boy. All Star voting has been open for two days now and it has all gone to hell so quickly I don't know what will happen next. So on the first day of voting lots of people realized that every single player was available to select, for some reason.
So of course what's the one stupid thing people picked up on? John Scott.
Not that I'm calling the 6'8" 260lbs enforcer stupid. No, he's a handsome fellow who is for sure a great guy to be around (checks schedule, oh good, we already played the Coyotes this season).
In fact, the initial surge in voting for Mr. Scott was so popular, he hit first place in votes in one day (at the time of this writing, 9 a.m. on December 3, he's still #1). I'll admit, that I voted for him as well, mostly because I felt the need to fill out the other divisions on my ballot:
I want Leo Komarov in as the Leafs rep and captain because he seems like a guy who will really enjoy the experience, and he's having one hell of a season, so it's nice to recognize these players. The rest? I went with the worst player I could think of, because i don't care about the other divisions.
Sure, you could consider me "part of the problem" if you see the John Scott campaign as a problem.
The truth is, however, it's not a problem.
The Fan Vote is a marketing tool to get people excited and talking about the All Star Game. That's it. And it's working. Plenty of virtual ink has been spilled in the past two days about how the voting is going. Lots of tweets, radio spots, and talking heads are spouting off. It's getting the game out there, it's new format, and other information out there, at no expense to the NHL.
Voting in someone like John Scott doesn't ruin the integrity of a game where every team gets one player on the roster. That rule cheapens the entire "see the best in the league!" angle of the event.
However, no matter how the fan voting goes, the NHL will make sure it's Captains are actually All-Stars. This year the NHL Hockey Ops department is picking the entire teams with the fan vote only selecting 1 player for each team.
Arizona Coyotes rookie Max Domi is second in the Pacific division, with Johnny Gaudreau and Connor McDavid falling in behind him. These three would be perfect opportunities to lead the marketing with great young players, and they won't let something like a campaign to vote in a guy who barely plays get in the way of that. Watch for a surge in votes for Domi, Gaudreau, and McDavid closer to the final days of voting.
Fan voting will never go away. So what can the NHL do?
The best solution that was presented yesterday, one of those great minds was our own JaredFromLondon, was for the NHL to not allow every single player to be selected. Restricting who the fans can vote for could save some headaches fo the NHL, they'll still have some issues and controversies coming up (like who's leading the central division right now), but it will be much reduced.
Allowing every player to be selected is nonsense, and creates nonsense like John Scott, Rory Fitzpatrick, or what the #2 Leafs blog, The Leafs Nation, has going on with their "Vote for Robidas" campaign.
If the NHL picks, say 90 players, three from each team, who lead their team in stats or are household names or young marketable stars, it drains away the chances of bored people online starting shenanigans. This way only "true all-stars" can be voted on, and keeps the talent pool to choose from more concentrated on people who can actually play at that level.
People could still find ways to make a joke out of the voting, if we cant have fun with it then what's the point, but they'd have to be more creative about it. Creative trolling is what we should all strive for.