Cornwall - Jan. 31, 2011 - I have never been much of a fan of the NHL All-Star game or the NFL Pro Bowl. In fact, I don't think I have ever watched one game in either sport, start to finish, but I do understand why both leagues host these games each and every year.
Pro sports leagues are big business and this is a great opportunity for the league to wine and dine its sponsors and to showcase the skill levels of the best players in the game. For the NFL players, their season is over but for NHL players it is an opportunity get a much needed break from the rigorous schedule of playing an NHL game every second night for 26 weeks a year, plus playoffs. Only 36 players got the chance to go to Carolina this past weekend, while the other 800 players got an opportunity to enjoy a little R and R.
This weekend, the NHL All-Star game fell on the same day as the NFL Pro Bowl game. It was a great opportunity to compare the two events and I must say that I prefer the hockey version.
Both games were filled with their sports' very best and both games were an all out offensive attack with 21 goals being scored in the NHL game and 96 points being tallied in the NFL tilt. However, if you take the hitting out of hockey, it is a far better game than if you take the hitting out of football.
I recognize that nobody wants to get hurt in these games and it is all a big show. However, as a Bears fan who is used to watching Peppers, Urlacher and Briggs deliver bone-crushing hits every Sunday, it was really strange watching them played in what amounted to a glorified game of touch football.
I think the NHL has done a better job with their All-Star event than the NFL has. To me, the All-Star skills competition is more fun to watch then the game itself. Players get a chance to be creative in the shootout and push themselves to see how they compare to other stars in the league in the various competitions.
I really enjoyed the new format for selecting the teams this year. Brendan Shanahan should be commended for this novel approach, as it created a reason for hockey fans to pay attention on a third day of the all-star weekend. Perhaps not everyone watched the draft from start to finish, but I am sure many checked out the highlights.
What do you think the chances are that Eric Staal will now be booed every time he touches the puck at the ACC, due to his comment about Toronto not being a hockey market? The draft created some fun and inadvertently added some interest to future NHL match-ups.
I recognize why the Leagues host these games, but I am looking forward to real action. Hoping to see the Packers lose the Super Bowl on Sunday and anxious to get the NHL back on the ice. Leafs host the Panthers on Tuesday, while the Habs travel to Washington to take on the Caps!