TAMPA — The NHL All-Star Game is coming to town next weekend, reaffirming our community's ability to step into the breach when needed. We don't stop until we get the Winter Olympics. So, don't be surprised if those next Rays stadium plans look an awful lot like a bobsled a luge run.
First comes our turn to be a winter wonderland.
The best hockey players on the planet are headed our way and it is hard to not be excited. Any time you have the best at anything in the house, it's a special thing.
Now why do they have to ruin it and go play the game?
I hate All Star Games. In any form or fashion. I'd rather watch Olympic hockey.
Understand that I love All Stars. I love how honored they are to be selected. I love Star trappings and player availability. And hockey players are the very best. Great guys. I'd feel perfectly willing to pull Connor McDavid and Steven Stamkos off the ice to babysit my kids.
Just don't play an All-Star Game.
It is a contrivance, a needless exhibition. Lots of talent, but nothing is real, except maybe seeing the Boston Spearer, Brad Marchand, and Lightning players buddying up as Atlantic Division teammates for the weekend. World peace dead ahead.
That is nothing against all the great NHL All-Star Games in history, like Wales 12, Campbell 7, or East 11, West 7, or Team Chara 12, Team Alfredsson 9. Memories.
The NHL has tried to make it matter, but it doesn't and we all know it. Can't we just have a media session and a Fanfest and then send the boys back to the grind?
When we see them again, it will be playoffs, and it will be mayhem. That's hockey. All Star Games are not.
Tell me the last time you saw a hip check thrown in an All Star Game?
Come to think of it, tell me the last time you saw a hip check thrown anywhere?
There are worse All-Star offenders. The NFL will trot its Pro Bowl out next weekend in Orlando, not Hawaii. The Pro Bowl is preposterous. They should just have a party and play flag football, which, eventually, when the lawyers, doctors and medical colleges are done with the NFL, is all it will be anyway.
The NBA All-Star Game should be abolished. I knew it from the time the first blindfolded wing man jumped over a parked car to slam dunk.
Baseball at least lets guys wear their own uniforms. I used to wait for my team's players midsummer introductions.
Hockey has tried. Stanley Cup champs vs. All Stars. East-West, Wales-Campbell, North America vs. the World, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers.
The three-on-three format resembles a game, I guess, in the sense that NHL uses three-on-three overtime during the season. No one plays defense. Who has the time?
I still don't care what happens in this game.
Love the guys, hate the game.
I'd like a new format next weekend: NHL players vs. Gasparilla pirates. I'll send my boys over the boards anytime. Or to babysit. The NHL All-Stars are coming. Stand and cheer.
Just don't get carried away and pay attention to the game.
Contact Martin Fennelly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact @mjfennelly