No, this isn't a rant about why Phoenix Coyotes' forward Paul Bissonette is ahead of the likes of Daniel Alfredsson and Ilya Kovalchuk and other much more talented and accomplished forwards in All Star voting this year. That's the ability fans have to exercise their right to vote for whomever they like.
What irks me is the ballot selection. Inevitably every year there is a bit of an outcry about who is included on the ballot and who isn't. It's nice to see the NHL using the internet for this,and even being kind enough to include a write-in section, but why are we still living in the 1950's with the ballots?
Granted, I only had a minor in Political Science, but if this was a federal election, we'd have a list of a handful of candidates to choose from. Not 37 candidates on the ballot, but maybe 5-10. I like that they keep the crazies off that list from the fringe parties. Maybe they limit the number that appear on there for that purpose, or logistical purposes because a paper ballot can only be so long. Someone who knows the real reason - I welcome you to enlighten me.
I can only assume similar reasons exist with the NHL Perhaps in the past it wasn't feasible to list more players. Why else would they create a system where every year the names on the ballot seem to be decided before the season begins. Inevitably there is a bunch of players on the ballot who under perform or get injured, and there's always a handful of players who shine in the first half of the year, but are nowhere to be found on the ballot. (Carey Price, Alexander Semin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Claude Giroux, etc.).
Montreal Canadiens' D Andrei Markov is actually in the top 20 for all-star voting for Defense. He's played three games all year. I understand that fans would vote for him, but why is he even on the ballot?
Let's take another example. Alexander Edler is top 10 in scoring amongst NHL Defensemen. He's been the best defender on one of the better teams in the league. Christian Ehrhoff from the Canucks has also been strong. Yet despite their strong years this year and last, Dan Hamhuis is the Canucks' representative on the ballot. This makes absolutely no sense. Heck the injured and mediocre (when he was in the line up this year) Dion Phaneuf has four times the votes of Edler or Anaheim's super rookie Cam Fowler. I'm not complaining about a disparity in votes based on fans preferences, but I think it's obvious that players on the ballot have a much greater chance of receiving a vote than a player not on the ballot, regardless of their play this season.
Thankfully fans are trying their best. In fact, as ESPN's Pierre LeBrun points out, 43% of Defensemen are write-in ballots.
I cannot figure out why the NHL cannot make use of some drop down menus to give all players a fair shot. At least the NHL's fans are nice enough to poke fun at the system and vote for the likes of Paul Bissonnette - and who could forget the run that former Canucks defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick had as he gave Chris Pronger and Nicklas Lidstrom a run for their money towards being a start in the All-Star game.
The bottom line is, it's about time they made a more interactive ballot. Computers can do some crazy things these days.