I was more excited for this ASG than I had been in a few years. I thought Shanny had done a good job trying to breathe life into a potentially moribund event.
The obvious question was whether his efforts were spent on an event that is, in the immortal words of Miracle Max, "mostly dead", or if the ASG - like other sports' ASGs - was all dead (at which point, we've learned, there's only one thing to do: go through it's pockets and look for loose change.)
So, I sat down with my mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich (and the mutton was nice and lean - so perky, I love that) to watch the proceedings on Vs with an element of anticipation that I had not been able to attach to anything related to the ASG for a while.
First and foremost, James Duthie. Ugh. I love me some goobers. Especially Canadian goobers. Jeff Marek is one of my favorite Canadian goober hockey personalities. He'd have been great. But Duthie fails for trying to be cooler, smarter, more-legit than he is. He tries for Bob McKenzie, The Hockey Insider; he ends up Bob McKenzie, Doug's brother. James needs to spend less time trying to be cool and more time letting the hockey players be the show. Regardless, his presence was a bad omen from the outset. Why couldn't Shanny have been the host? JR? If you're going for campy, then let a player do it. If you're going for legit, then tapping Duthie is just a joke.
The thing would have been cool if it had been on ice, letting the captains pick by making players do hockey things. "OV you and Stamkos go to the far goal line and take turns shooting at the other net. I'll pick which ever one of you doesn't miss first." "Both of you start bouncing a puck off your stick. I'll pick the one who can do it longer." Stuff like that.
But putting them in the pens and then bringing them up into those boxes gave the whole thing a weird, hockey dream, Family Feud feeling to it.
Also, have you ever seen a sweater with so much promise on the front side that was dashed so conclusively by the back side? Woof.
From Duthie, to the arm candy, to the decided lack of personality, to the drawn out nature due to the football game-like number of commercials, the whole thing failed for me. What could have been a fun exposition of the coolness of hockey players became a made-for-TV circle jerk for TSN. Boring.
And now I have to admit that I can't see how this new wrinkle is going to do anything to up the fun factor of the game itself. No one's going to be running around hitting people. It's going to continue to be an offensive practice session. Which is fine. But, we've seen that movie.
I'll watch, because it's the NHL and it's on TV and I'm a fan.
But I can't see this making the ASG any more of a "happening" than it is already; which is to say: not at all.