It's not hard to understand why some hockey fans are having a laugh with the NHL's All-Star voting campaign. The game itself is a bit of a lark, so why not engage in a little online anarchy and champion some bottom-six player for a moment in the sun?
And just imagine someone like shutdown defender Rob Scuderi matching up with Alex Ovechkin and Vladimir Tarasenko in the skills competition, or current leading vote-getter John Scott trying to keep pace with burners like Patrick Kane and Tyler Seguin at three-on-three. Great fun, right?
But here's what everyone voting for those fringe candidates is overlooking:
Nobody likes to be embarrassed.
That became clear Wednesday when a pair of top vote-getters petitioned their fans to lend their support to someone else.
Roughly translated: “With all due respect to fans, please do not vote for me for this year's All-Star Game! Such things must be earned!”
Girgensons has already been through this once before. As a sophomore last season, he received 1.6 million votes, far more than any other player thanks to a massive push from his native Latvia, and was named a starter for the game alongside five members of the Chicago Blackhawks. While he was clearly uncomfortable with the attention at the time, at least it could be argued he belonged in the game as the best player on the Sabres.
That isn't the case this year. With just four points through his first 21 games—two of those earned this past Tuesday—Girgensons is struggling to find himself. He knows he doesn't belong and as a respectful kid he doesn't want to go to Nashville in place of someone who does.
Later in the day, Jaromir Jagr issued his own plea to his followers:
Jagr deserves an All-Star invite every time based on his legendary status alone. This year though he's truly earned the opportunity as Florida's most effective and most consistent offensive player. If the contest was being played under normal rules, he'd be a welcome addition. But his glacially-paced puck-protection game is a lousy fit for the three-on-three format, especially at the speed it's likely to be played in Nashville. He knows it. And he doesn't want to be the old man constantly caught two zones back of the play while the kids are galloping end to end.
Even Scott seems uncomfortable with the possibility that he might actually be named to lead the Pacific Division squad.
"I don’t want to have my name in the headlines for this reason," he told the Arizona Republic. "Like, it's a fun little thing and hopefully it'll die down over time. It’s not something—I definitely don't want to be voted into the All-Star Game. It would be cool, but I definitely don't deserve it to this point."
The All-Star Game's rules are clear. Barring a legitimate injury, if you're invited, you play.
But you have to sympathize with the positions of these players. If the situation were different, they'd probably love to be involved. But not this time, not under these circumstances. So if they, or others who are swept up in this silliness choose to beg off, here's hoping the league does the decent thing.
Nobody wants to be embarrassed.
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