Four Blackhawks players were selected to represent the Central Division in the 2017 NHL All-Star Game this month in Los Angeles, but Artemi Panarin was not one of them. I have a problem with that, and so should you.
The NHL All-Star Game voting was under scrutiny last season when the fans chose Arizona Coyotes defenseman, and NHL journeyman John Scott as a captain in the newly adapted three-on-three tournament. While personally I loved seeing John Scott get the opportunity to participate in the 2016 NHL All-Star Game, mostly because he was doing exactly what the fans wanted him to do, stick it to the NHL, and prove that their voting system was in fact broken.
The fan voting system is largely broken across professional sports as a whole, and every year the most reputable players are chosen to represent their respective league in the annual exhibition showcase of talent, while some of the more deserving players are left with an unwarranted extended stretch of days off.
Well NHL, you apparently didn’t learn from last season, even after your awful attempt to have the Coyotes stuff Scott in their minor league system so that he couldn’t participate in the festivities. Your sneaky behind the scenes goon-ism in the John Scott case last season was an indicator that you were well aware of the flawed fan voting system, yet you failed again. Or did you? John Scott, despite all of your efforts, played in the All-Star Game and put on one hell of a show, and even won the 2016 All-Star Game MVP Award, and was hoisted in the air by his teammates after their victory in what was likely the highlight of his career.
So instead of addressing the fan vote problem that you clearly have, you counted the profits of your “mistake” and went about business as usual. Of course, here we are, one year later, and one of the best players in the NHL, and the Chicago Blackhawks second leading scorer will be watching the 2017 NHL All-Star Game from his couch, or maybe even from a local Panera Bread, but more than likely from his couch.
Artemi Panarin, the defending Calder Trophy winner, the NHL’s reigning Rookie of the Year and the Blackhawks second best points man was left out of the All-Star Game festivities because of a flawed fan voting system.
Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, and Corey Crawford are heading to the 2017 All-Star Game in Los Angeles, yet Panarin is not. In all fairness, this is a horrible stain on Blackhawks fans as well, seeing as we watch every game, and have a plethora of local media outlets that should have told us that Panarin is most definitely deserving of the honor, especially more deserving that even his own teammate Jonathan Toews.
Jonathan Toews is having one of his worst first-half’s of his career, mustering up only 20 points through the first 43 games. In fact Toews ranks seventh on the Blackhawks in scoring, and has missed nine games due to injury thus far.
Corey Crawford has only played in 26 of the Blackhawks 43 games this season, and while he has posted a stellar .925 save percentage over that span, Hawks’ back-up goaltender Scott Darling has 17 starts under his belt this season and has the same exact save percentage as Crawford.
Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith are most definitely deserving of the honor, and I am not mad that Toews and Crawford are heading to Los Angeles next month, because the more Blackhawks the merrier, right?
Panarin being snubbed from the annual showcase of talent is just not sitting well with me, and shouldn’t sit well with hockey fans as a whole.
Artemi Panarin has put together a phenomenal season in his sophomore campaign thus far, amassing 41 points on 17 goals and 24 assists with an average on-ice time of almost 20 minutes per game. Panarin has also posted a solid plus/minus rating of +16 through 43 games.
Panarin’s 41 points ranks 6th in the NHL, only six points behind the league’s leading scorer, Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid. His 24 assists rank 11th in the NHL, and his 17 goals is 7th best in the NHL behind a pack of players tied with 19 goals to date. Panarin, outside of Patrick Kane has been the Blackhawks best player during the 2016-2017 campaign, and quite possibly over the last two seasons.
The All-Star game will be missing one of the best young scorers in the league this month because the fan vote failed us once again, or we failed the fan vote once again, however you want to look at it.
So if you were looking forward to seeing Panarin’s lightning fast, signature one-time snap-shot for the Central Division team in next month’s NHL All-Star Game in Los Angles, you’re out of luck. But you will get to see Nathan MacKinnon and his -12 plus/minus, and his 10 goals on the campaign. You’ll get to see Jonathan Toews play along side some of the NHL’s best, based solely on his notoriety, but not Panarin.
Here’s to another year of hoping the NHL can get this right next season.