Tonight’s first-ever NHL All-Star Game Fantasy Draft was designed to spice up a meaningless game with a stale format. Did it work? Eh… not really, but let’s take an in-depth look at the proceedings anyway.
The format is pretty simple, and mimics picking teams in sixth grade gym class, pretty much entirely for the purpose of making a world-class athlete look like the awkward fat kid when they get picked last. On the plus side, at least they’ve got a multi-million dollar contract to ease the pain of being picked last to play in a meaningless game, so they’ve still got a leg up on that fat kid in Miss Kowalksy’s class. Inexplicably, the format was amended so that all of the goalies must be selected by the end of the tenth round, and all defencemen by the end of the fifteenth round, thereby guaranteeing that a forward will be the last overall selection and strangling the life out of what little drama could have been created by the format.
With each round being pretty much the same, here’s how things went down:
The captain and his assistants plot their selections in secret. Whoever came up with this format was brilliant, because watching some guys talk in inaudible tones is scintillating television.
The selection is made by one of the captains, who tries his best to say something funny. Hockey players aren’t known for their razor wit or snappy comedic timing, and the audience reaction to the “jokes” being told sounded a lot like the kind of applause normally reserved for cringe-worthy elementary school plays.
The selected player emerges from the sea of expensive suits and very questionable haircuts that makes up the draftee seating area to accept his All-Star jersey while TSN’s James Duthie relays an anecdote about the player, all of which could be paraphrased to “this guy is pretty good at hockey.”
Some of the players are interviewed by James Duthie. This comprises the first element of the All-Star Skills Competition, which is a new event called “do an interview without demonstrating any discernible personality or saying anything interesting.”
The other team makes a selection, repeating steps 1 through 4.
Occasionally a sixth step was added in which the TSN panel would discuss how the teams were stacking up so far. Pierre McGuire fawns over every player selected as loudly as possible and seems convinced that this All-Star Game is the most important hockey game that will ever be played. EVER. If he keeps up that level of enthusiasm I assume he’ll have a brain aneurysm by the end of the weekend. The results will likely ruin Bob McKenzie’s suit.
When it was finally revealed that Phil Kessel would be the last pick, James Duthie jumped in to point out that the point of the Fantasy Draft wasn’t to humiliate anyone… except that as far as anyone can tell that was the entire crux of the drama, since none of the fans have any sort of emotional stake in who the teams pick and they’re all ridiculously good hockey players. So, uh, good job, Fantasy Draft. You sure did happen.