The NHL All-Star rosters were announced Wednesday, and people are mad! Mad, I say! They are turning over cars in Philadelphia and throwing slot machines at magicians in Vegas. There are protesters outside the NHL's office right now demanding Anders Lee be allowed to play in the game. It's anarchy.
We here at VICE Sports are also mad. That's why we've poured over the lists and are ready to unleash anger on your behalf. The NHL fucked up! Why do they hate your team??!?! Are they idiots? Don't they see the stats? Don't they watch the games? Eat shit, Gary Bettman! We won't rest until these injustices are remedied!
Here is one snub to replace a less deserving player from each division that should satisfy the disenfranchised fans of teams that were royally screwed over. We won't rest until these players are treated with the respect they deserve!
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GET OUT: Sidney Crosby
Of all the years to send the guy that would rather slam his nuts in a car door than spend a weekend at an All-Star Game, it's the year he's 10th in his division in points per game and has two teammates more deserving. The only thing Crosby warrants less than this All-Star nod is his two Conn Smythe Trophies. Even Crosby said he doesn't think he's an All-Star! Crosby is the cool kid in high school you invite to your party even though you know he'll never show, except now you're asking him when he's in his 30s, overweight, bald, married, and probably has plans to watch the CMT Awards that night anyway.
GET IN: Phil Kessel
Sweet, beautiful, American golden boy Phil Kessel is left home, probably because he once tweeted a great joke about how he wasn't at the World Cup when Team USA was getting its ass kicked. The man who leads the Penguins in scoring and has embraced the hot dog jokes publicly is forced to stay home because the suits that pick this team hate fun. He's fast and has two goals at 3-on-3 this year. The people demand more Phil and the people are being ignored.
GET OUT: Carey Price
Does anyone actually watch hockey or did people hear that six years ago Carey Price was the best goaltender in hockey and decide to go along with it for a decade? Save for the MVP season, this guy is either injured or as average as an ABC sitcom. Price this season has a .911 save percentage, which would be amazing in the 1980s, which is when the people selecting the team last watched hockey.
GET IN: Shea Weber
The Atlantic Division sucks, so this makes it difficult to pick the team. So here's what we do—we leave Price and Mike Green home, then bring Weber and Jimmy Howard, who is a nice story with decent enough numbers and nobody gives a shit about the goaltenders anyway. And since the Habs must have one player, we send Weber. And if you're like, "Dave, but he's hurt, he can't play, are you some kind of dumb idiot?" I am! But here's what happens—Weber gets the nod but then we replace him—with Mikhail Sergachev! He's fourth in scoring among Atlantic defensemen and it would be HIGH-larious if we added another Tampa guy that was Habs property a few months ago! Requirements are satisfied, we get to laugh, and Sergachev has more points than Green, so it's fair and fun!
GET OUT: Brayden Schenn
Schenn is having a great year. A wonderful year! An All-Star worthy year! But fuck him! Congrats on finally living up to your potential eight years after you were the fifth pick in the draft! You know what else is great every eight years? A presidential election! (Democrats and Republicans replace each other every eight years so you can all enjoy that joke). But let's be honest—Schenn has the same amount of points as someone else on his team that we'd all rather see play 3-on-3.
GET IN: Vladimir Tarasenko
Tarasenko and Schenn both have 44 points in 46 games but Tarasenko has two more goals. That should be enough to get him in ahead of Schenn. Unfortunately, when the NHL is choosing the teams, the tiebreaker isn't "which player is more electric" and instead it's "choose the Canadian over the Russian." God, I hate this league. I can't think of any other sport where this would happen.
GET OUT: James Neal
Oliver Ekman-Larsson is 47th (FORTY-SEVENTH!) in his division in scoring so there's no sane person that could consider him an All-Star. He doesn't even have the most points among defensemen on his own team. But because of position requirements, we are stuck. What we are not stuck with is Neal, the fifth-leading scorer on his own team. Jesus Christ. I don't get this league. Vegas is the best story in the NHL and instead of bringing tiny, speedy Jonathan Marchessault or William Karlsson, we are taking a guy who once tried to knock a prone player unconscious with his knee. If Neal goes ahead of his teammates because of name recognition, why is Schenn going ahead of Tarasenko?
GET IN: Jonathan Marchessault
This satisfies all of my requirements—he's insanely good (40 points in 38 games) and gets to play in Tampa after the Lightning let him walk as a free agent in 2016. I want fun, excitement and trolling when at all possible. This ticks all the boxes. Marchessault has 11 more points than Neal in three fewer games. It's one thing when position rules make it hard to pick worthy players but Neal over Marchessault is a crime.
GET OUT: Hockey Operations
This is the second year in a row that Colin Campbell's department has selected the final 40 All-Stars after fans vote for the four captains. Campbell is the same guy who stepped down from his position as league disciplinarian in 2011 after it was revealed he sent emails complaining about a call that went against his son, Gregory. Campbell is also the guy in 2016 that attempted to shame John Scott from participating in the All-Star Game by telling Scott he'd embarrass his family, only to see Scott play and win MVP in the highest-rated All-Star Game since 2004.
The league decided that the fans could not be trusted after their campaign to send Scott to the most-watched All-Star Game in more than a decade, so they gave it to Campbell, who despite his best efforts, could not sabotage it before it could happen. His reward was he and his department choosing 91 percent of the All-Stars until further notice. It's not the seventh most popular sports league in North America by accident, folks.
GET IN: The Fans
As punishment for engineering the first interesting All-Star Game in decades, fans are now restricted to only choosing captains, and even that process is so restrictive that it's borderline patronizing to even involve fans. This is a league that hates its fans but it's rarely this open about it.
The bump in ratings in 2016 led to the 2017 game being moved from cable to network television for the first time since 2004. Scott's presence, despite Campbell's efforts, helped get the All-Star Game back to network television, which led to more viewers.
Let fans pick the starting four for each division. Let them feel involved. People that dump tons of money into a product don't want to feel like they are being kept at arm's length, especially for something as inconsequential as an All-Star Game. Campbell can pick all the players he thinks aren't fake artists for the remaining 28 spots.