Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A history of ridiculous NHL all-star selections

The NHL All-Star rosters were announced on Saturday, and everyone is mad because that’s the whole point.

Some guys were undeserving, several more were snubbed, and at the end of the day none of it really mattered because All-Star games are kind of pointless when you think about it. But it’s all in good fun, and considering the entire Blackhawks roster had already been voted in, the league did the best it could with the few spots it had to work with.

Besides, if you think some of this year’s choices were odd, none of them come close to matching some of history’s strangest All-Star choices. After all, the league has been doing this for decades. The odds say that every once in a while, things are going to get truly weird.

So today, let’s take a look back at some of the oddest All-Star picks from over the years. Maybe by the end of this post, Justin Faulk won’t seem so bad.

John Garrett and the Case of the Disappearing Car

If John Garrett’s name sounds familiar, it’s probably because he went on to a very successful broadcasting career after his playing days were over. He’s been in that business for more than 25 years, working for properties like Hockey Night in Canada and Sportsnet. He’s a really good TV guy.

What he never was, though, was an especially good NHL goaltender. He spent six years in the league, mostly backing up, while posting a career goals-against well north of 4.00 and never winning more than 16 games in a season. Given all that, it sounds strange to describe Garrett as a former All-Star. But the story of how he got there is even stranger, and there’s a good case to be made that he’s the most unlikely NHL All-Star pick of all time.

Here’s how it happened. In February 1983, Vancouver’s starting goalie was Richard Brodeur, a pretty good player who’d just been chosen as the Canucks’ lone representative at the All-Star Game. The team traded for Garrett on February 4 to add a veteran backup. The next night, Brodeur suffered a serious ear injury that took him out of the lineup just days before the All-Star Game would be held.

That left the league with a problem. Brodeur was the Canucks’ only All-Star selection, and the rules said that each team had to be represented. And since he was a goalie, his replacement would need to be one too. That left Garrett as the only possible choice, even though he’d won only six games all year. At the time, the whole thing was viewed as “kind of a mockery of the sport,” according to, uh, John Garrett himself.

Old-time fans may remember what happened next. Garrett came in midway through the All-Star Game and stood on his head, making several spectacular saves. He played so well that when MVP voting was done during the third period, he was chosen as the winner of the award, and the new car that went with it.

Then Wayne Gretzky scored four goals, all in the third period. There was a hasty revote, Gretzky won, and Garrett presumably had to hitch a ride home. He still earned the win, though.

The Senators Double Down

You might assume that Garrett’s six wins would be an unbreakable record for the fewest by an All-Star goaltender. And if the NHL All-Star Game were really about honoring the best of the best, you’d be right.

But here comes that tricky “at least one player per team” rule again. In a normal year, that can result in some odd picks. But when you enforce that rule during an era of historically awful expansion teams, things can get downright silly.

It’s how we wound up with forgettable early-’90s All-Stars like Bob Kudelski, Brian Bradley, and Kelly Kisio. And it’s how we ended up with the owner of perhaps the worst stat line to ever be honored with a selection: Ottawa Senators goaltender Peter Sidorkiewicz.

Sidorkiewicz was a decent goalie who’d had some success in Hartford before heading to Ottawa in the 1992 expansion draft. That Senators team would turn out to be awful, and poor Sidorkiewicz had to bear the brunt of it. He played 64 games and led the league in losses and goals against.

That didn’t prevent him from being named to the 1993 All-Star team, even though he headed into the game with an almost unthinkable 4-32-3 record. Maybe it was pity. Maybe the Senators just didn’t have anyone else. Either way, Sidorkiewicz got the call.

Ironically, he didn’t end up being the lone Senators pick after all. This was back in the days when the league would honor players with a “commissioner’s selection,” allowing veteran players at the tail end of their career to get into the game. In 1993, one such pick went to Ottawa’s Brad Marsh, the journeyman defensive defenseman who’d plodded his way through a 15-year career with five different teams.

So the Senators actually sent two players to the All-Star Game that year: a goalie with four wins and a veteran with 23 career goals in more than 1,000 games. If there’s ever been a worse All-Star pairing from a single team, I’m glad I wasn’t around to see it.

Needless to say, Marsh scored a goal and Sidorkiewicz earned the win.

>> Read the full post on Grantland

1 comment:

  1. Teppo Numminen scored 42 points in the 99-00 season. That's not bad at all.