What is an ‘All-Star’?

NHL All Star 2016

A while back, our Buffalo Sabres writer – Paul Kaseman – told us he had some thoughts to share about the NHL’s annual All-Star game. He does have some thoughts – some strong ones. This was written several weeks ago, before the NHL’s declaration that John Scott will be attending the NHL All-Star game as a participant. Due to an error on our part we’re only getting it up now. -Eds

In lieu of what the NHL vis-à-vis Gary Bettman have nefariously acted as in according to John Scott’s fan vote selection of captain in their all-star game my interpretation of that which constitutes the definition of an all-star has come to be questioned. The reason for scrutinizing the definition is based on a rise of repugnant feelings toward the National Hockey Leagues on their treatment of the parties, John Scott is not the only party persecuted, involved.

Let us embark initially on these blogging thoughts of a madman where the controversy begins in its infancy, the NHL All-Star game in conjunction with fan-voting. The All-Star game is a contest of those adjudicated to be the best player in the league. In an effort to bolster viewership and participation for the game itself the NHL gave the fans some say into the contestants.  I imagine the rationale for this being (simply):  increased fan participation equates to increased fan involvement, i.e. money for the league from  a myriad of sources including but not limited to prospective TV deals & revenue from all-star related activities of but not solely the sale of merchandise & promotional events.  My previous involvement in such activity has been to cast a single vote to players I would appreciate watching in the aforementioned competition.

I know not the multitudes of players in the league but I know players I like to watch, even those not belonging to the Blue and Gold of my Buffalo Sabres.  Yes, last year I was one of 1,574,896 (pg 90 in  the link) votes for Zemgus Girgensons & one of probably two hundred thousand votes that weren’t from the country of Latvia.  Girgensons is not an ‘all-star’ caliber player perspective of the league yet in my estimation he is.  He came to symbolize hard-work, dedication, grit, & most importantly for me (perhaps Latvia as well) determination to not just emerge in the land of the best but to have success there as well.  These qualities are worthy of emulation in my life.  Through Zemgus I have an admiration for.  In a term for the NHL he is an all-star in my life.  He was one of the players I voted for last year.  Through his participation, the principle reason, I viewed not just the all-star game itself but the draft, etc, etc.  In every year of which I voted & a principle character has enlivened the format I have watched the NHL All-Star game.

This year the NHL resumed their tradition of a fan vote.  Again my votes were cast in their new format.  Jagr, despite his humor on twitter, was one of my selections, Girgensons another, the East I knew well enough.  The West not as much but decently enough to know league scribed all-stars, if for nothing else the balloting page had a list of recommended players to choose from.  Yet John Scott was one of the names I heard about acquiring serious nomination.  I thought of Mr. Scott as a representative.  Having some familiarity to both the player and his person from his warm days in Buffalo, a notoriously cold city & during his tenure a cold couple seasons (12/13, 13/14) through no fault of his own (#tank).  Reminiscent of what he was, he certainly became a source of gaity, merriment, and laughter.  Actions much needed from the viewpoint of this blogging madman.  His fights, hits gave us a reason for the occasional cheer too.  Thus when it came time to cast a vote he was a person I could call an all-star in my estimation.  Through not his point production on the ice but through his charming personality & dedication of a good soldier, a team player – doing that which is asked of you without question by your coach.  Perhaps the later is akin to us all.

With the league phasing out his role, the role of enforcer, an all-star tip of the cap is a thanks not just to John Scott but a memorial tribute with great appreciation to the unsung heroes (all-stars) of enforcers past.  John Scott symbolizes our statue of bronze outside each arena of enforcers and journey-men; that of good soldiers who will soon be obsolete.

What then is an all-star but those that exemplify the qualities & dreams of the viewing public or even the private person.  The NHL appears to stricken the meaning to those with the best statistical points/records in comparison with the current season & in relation from their respective team. -Each team shall have at minimum one representative.- We, the people, generally agree with such a definition.  It represents qualities of success, perseverance/drive, dedication, team-work.  As a coach these are all top qualities I strive to instill in my players year after year.  As a worker, these are qualities I strive for at work.  As a person these are all qualities I remind myself to be daily.  An all-star can be defined not as narrowly.  It may also be remarkable, excellent, prominent, noted, even notable; a hero – someone to look up to in admiration for the “content of their character, not the color of their skin” – M.L.K. or in this case not for their marginalized role in the NHL.

My father is an all-star of mine as is my mother, my grandmother as well, as people personal to me for raising me the right way with ‘content of character’; for teaching me to respect others, be fair in life, adhere to the golden rule, instilling in me a most solid and noble moral compass to which I lead my life.  They themselves in loose ways fit the NHL standard of an all-star but they are not a the top of their class in a broader world like the NHL selected list recommends despite their successes/stats/records in life.  After all you, the reader, would have no idea who they are if given their names.  They are not Warren Buffet, Elon Musk, Bill Gates; the Alex Ovechkin, Erik Karlsson, Jonathan Quick type people.  They are the John Scott’s of hockey to me, the dedicated soldier to help me be better in my life – the same as an enforcer protects star players.

They are the marginalized players but the important players that receive little fanfare.  Herein lies the maturity of the controversy with the spoiled action of the National Hockey League vis-à-vis Gary Bettman in the removal (according to Bob McKenzie’s twitter account) of John Scott from their all-star game in Nashville.  They are saying my all-star, your voted in all-star/hero can not be your mother, father, or any personage that is personal to you without it being a distinctly notable entity in the grand scheme of the world like that of a Bill Gates or Alex Ovechkin.  Well Mr. Bettman, the NHL, and others hidden behind the obfuscation of a corporate entity, I do admire Warren Buffet, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, et al, but one representative of each team is to be selected to the all-star game.  Since, by your generosity, have allowed me to vote in a representative of my team I have selected my father/my grandmother/perhaps myself if I be so fortunate to exemplify qualities others admire me for, in the NHL personage of John Scott.  In doing so I also give great thanks to him and the NHL journey-men of past & present he represents along with the NHL enforcers of old he is a modern symbol of.

I also recognize your, perhaps successful attempt at that of removing him and his representations from your All-Star hockey game.  I say ‘perhaps successful attempt’ in hope by your mercy you allow him to play and being the final representation of our personal all-stars and the last vestige of the ‘enforcer’ role you yourself are phasing out of the game.

John Scott is a marginal player.  He symbolizes much for your many varied and marginalized fans.  This blog itself is indicative of a representation of your marginalized fans (though this article is of my belief alone and may not represent the beliefs of the site it is posted on).  As a Buffalo Sabres fan I know what marginalization feels like.  In hockey terms:  We play Canada’s game in America, we are too Canadian for America, too American for Canada.  Is Buffalo American or Canadian for the hockey world?  Who knows… We haven’t won anything since…  Every Sabres game I attend their isn’t a star jersey that sticks out (not even Eichel yet).  We celebrate our third and fourth line players and admire their grit and ferocity as much as our first and second line players.  The bevy of jerseys with too numerous a name etched on the back during each home game proves our love for the team as a whole, first to fourth line along with benched & traded/retired players.  We love all our players and they love us (just one of many examples).

On a more personal note, is that I also am marginalized at large by being a homosexual which this website and its many authors can attest to.  Yet we are all hockey and even NHL fans.  Women, minorities, etc. can also attest to being marginalized at large, fans that enjoy fighting and enforcers have also felt marginalized by actions of the NHL to curtail a certain aspect of the game they love.  Each marginalized in their own way yet each still appreciate and enjoy that game which you oversee.  Despite the work of this site, You Can Play, Andrew Ference, Brian Burke, LA Kings’ kiss cam & team, et company at large we are still marginalized.  Please, I implore thee, allow us skates to play, a stick to tape up, and pads to protect us.  Give us an ice rink in Nashville for our teams’ representative in the NHL personage of John Scott.  Not just for me but for us – your marginalized fans in society – but also your segment of fans who love and appreciate the role of ‘enforcer’.

Please allow John Scott to play so that I, we, will watch the all-star game in Nashville this year.

“Not though the soldier knew
   Someone had blundered.
   Theirs not to make reply,
   Theirs not to reason why,
   Theirs but to do and die.
   Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.”
 – an excerpt from The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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3 Responses to What is an ‘All-Star’?

  1. Is this the edited version of the piece? The language is confusingly baroque and also has a stylistic affectation (& for and) which make me think this was a draft, not the final version.

    The first paragraph was so poorly written I almost bailed after the first two sentences, came back to try to figure out if it was some sort of joke, and then permanently stopped after paragraph three because it’s terrible.

    This seems out of character for Puck Buddys. It’s disappointing to me, because I would have liked to read a discussion about what is an all-star, but the writing was bad enough to chill my interest in the topic.

    • Doug says:

      Zvi – we encourage young writers as much as we can, helping them refine their chops but also find their voice. If some of the posts are a bit ragged, we’re OK with that as long as everyone is learning and growing.

    • paulkaseman says:

      I apologize for chilling your interest in the article due to my style. I will accept all criticism and attempt to improve going forward.

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