Friday, November 26, 2010

Democracy doesn't work: All-star voting through the years

Did we say all-stars? Maybe we
should have said "mostly stars".
This week saw the release of the first batch of results of fan voting for the 2011 all-star game. With this year's game featuring a creative new format that will see players divided up with a schoolyard-style draft, fans are paying close attention to the voting results as they come in.

The numbers so far have certainly given us plenty to talk about. Fans have organized write-in campaigns for players ranging from Paul Bissonnette to Sean Avery to Carey Price. Meanwhile, so-called star players such as Ilya Kovalchuk and Vincent Lecavalier trail far behind.

Debating the all-star votes has become an annual tradition that dates back to the inception of fan-chosen teams in 1986. Here's a look back at some of the more memorable moments in fan voting over the years.

November, 2008 - Montreal Canadien fans launch a ballot-stuffing campaign they discretely refer to as "Operation let's get a mediocre defenceman elected to the all-star team and then see if the Maple Leafs will massively overpay him in free agency".

December, 2006 - The NHL scoffs at accusations that they've tampered with the results of the balloting after announcing that a record 100% of fans have cast their vote for Gregory Campbell.

January, 1987 - Despite your careful efforts to punch the ballot just right and then hand it to the patiently waiting usher, you are devastated to learn that your childhood hero has not been selected for the game. Years later you will pinpoint the experience as the exact moment you learned the lifelong lesson that voting for things that are important to you is a complete waste of time.

February, 2009 - Three weeks after the all-star game is played, mailed-in ballots from Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon begin arriving at league headquarters.

January, 1997 - Claude Lemieux is flattered to learn that he has been named a starter on the Western Conference team thanks to a write-in campaign organized by Detroit Red Wing fans, although that feeling fades somewhat when he realizes that the same campaign has also elected Eastern Conference starters Rob Ray, Tie Domi, and an angry Doberman.

December, 2008 - Rick DiPietro casts a vote for himself, then spends six months on injured reserve due to the resulting paper cut.

January, 2001 - Defenceman Mark Eaton is the runaway vote leader in fan balloting, causing the league to rethink that season's heavily criticized "Delaware vs. The World" format.

December, 2009 - Attempts by Calgary ownership to encourage fans to flood the league office with write-in votes for Flames players goes awry when the players mistakenly assume the slogan "This Year, Let's All Mail It In!" is the team's new mission statement.

January, 2004 - A concerted write-in campaign by Ottawa Senator fans results in the entire Eastern Conference starting lineup consisting of variations of the phrase "Leafs suck".

January, 1993 - The league's efforts to encourage grade school children to vote backfires when the two starting goaltending spots are won in a landslide by Ron Tugnutt and Daren Puppa.

October, 1998 - The NHL's first attempt at online voting proves unpopular with fans, mainly due to its requirement that fans log in to the web site, click on their favourite player's name, and then mail their computer to the league's head office.

January, 1991 - Chris Nilan is named to the Wales Conference all-star team by head coach Mike Milbury, which would be the funniest joke in this entire piece except that it actually happened.

December, 2008 - Sidney Crosby attempts to cast his vote, but is thwarted in his efforts to punch the ballot after being unable to locate its crotch.


  1. You, sir, are on fire this week. Baby finally sleeping through the night or what?

  2. Tugnutt and Puppa made me LOL.

    Brilliant, start to finish.

  3. Makes me immature as hell, but Puppa and Tugnutt had me in tears.

  4. Maybe my wife has been right about me all along - giggling and poop and groin jokes is no example to set for my sons - keep 'em coming!

  5. (oops - make that "giggling AT")

  6. Great job, DGB.
    I think we can expect a Gregory Campbell joke every week from now on! :)

  7. Love the DiPietro jab...
    Kary is right, you are on fire lately.

    I do miss the leaf specifics, but hey, it's gold either way!

  8. Now that Wellwood has been banished to eating Borscht the KHL, Gregory (Really? Do we have to call him GREGORY?) Campbell will be the new whipping post around here.

  9. Damn man you're on fire!

    "I think we can expect a Gregory Campbell joke every week from now on! :)"

    As it should be :D

  10. Loved the DiPietro joke, as well as the Tallon line and Crosby crotch-hunting.

  11. DGB,

    Really funny stuff. Love the site and have been a follower since the beginning. But where's the Leafs writing gone? From a true blue Leafs fan it feels a little like you have sold out since going mainstream in the NP...miss your hilarious take on the trials and tribulations of following the blue and white. Have you been in Ottawa too long?


    Concerned Leafs fan

  12. Ron Tugnutt and Daren Puppa. Now that's funny stuff.

  13. Even my non-hockey fan wife enjoyed the Tugnutt/Puppa joke. Good stuff.

  14. How could you miss Vote for Rory? The only actual All Star voting scandal and it goes by without so much as a pun?

  15. Delaware vs. the World. Awesome.

  16. Ah...the Crosby nut-checking comments never get old. :)

  17. Concerned Leafs Fan:

    The National Post won't allow Leaf-centric material. We can kiss gems like "Things I miss about Maple Leaf Gardens" and "Great Obscure Moments in Leafs History" goodbye.

    Hell, I miss the "serious" Leafs posts too.

    This isn't to say the blog is still great; I am unapologetically nostalgic for the past.

  18. Hi folks...

    As far as the Leaf content goes, the Post prefers stuff with more national appeal (snce they're a national paper), although they let me slip in a few Leafs posts too.

    I can still do Leafs stuff the rest of the week, time permitting, which has been the issue lately. Hopefully things will slow down in the new year. There's a fun "Obscure Leafs Moment" in the queue which even involves an interview, if I can get it to come together.

    (I doubt I'll do the serious posts anymore either way, though -- I don't think they were very good.)

  19. *This isn't to say the blog *ISN'T* still great

  20. Hey Sean,

    Don't sell yourself short on the serious posts buddy, your vivid description of Wendel's Game 1 fight against McSorley and how it defined him as a player still brings a tear to my eye.

    Screw the NP man! (with due respect to the people paying your bills right now) Despite the obvious colour you have added, their sports section always consists entirely of pretentious articles about the "culture of the NHL", NHLPA conflicts and breaking down the salary cap in legal speak.
    Bring back the Leafs! I am making the rally call, we need some Unapologetic nostalgia for the past. Brutal realism about the present and begrudging optimism about the future. We need it more then ever right now.