Sunday, November 14, 2010

But who gets Albert?

There is a growing sentiment that in an overbooked and lengthy NHL season the prospect of an all star game is something best left for the history books.

An unlikely possibility however, considering each all star game is like a debutante ball for Commissioner Gary Bettman.  His chance to bring along a posse of corporate sponsors to schmooze along in the private booths and have their pictures taken with players, even if it's most likely many of them wouldn't recognize a player if they tripped over their equipment bags.

All Star Weekend of late has come to resemble the weekend that the carnival comes to your town, they have games of chance for the players,  a number of participation booths for fans to interact with players and of course the big finale, the game itself.

That part of All Star weekend however has more or less taken on all the importance of a public skate at the local rink, and to try and dress it up a bit the NHL is going to give it a makeover of sorts, with the NHL tasking the duties off to newly hired special advisor Brendan Shanahan.

And so after some no doubt entertaining banter between Shanny and  a few of his closest NHL friends , the league has released its latest revision to the mid season all star game, providing for the people of Raleigh this year with  a version  of those most Canadian of hockey events, the pre game picks combined with some kind of inside fantasy draft.

A decision which has received some interesting reviews since it was first outlined:

Globe and Mail-- GMs propose changes to all-star game
CBC Hotstove-- Debating the new all-star format
Winnipeg Free Press-- It'll be street hockey on steroids
Montreal Gazette-- All star changes fall flat
CBC-- All-star changes intriguing, but will game be any better?
Vancouver Province-- Let's get priorities right
Toronto Sun-- New All-Star format creates right kind of buzz
Detroit News-- Wings like format change for setting All-Star rosters

We see it as a sort of harkening back to the days of road hockey or a game at the local outdoor rink, this years all star game will feature the teams captains picking their own line up (with a bit of help from fan balloting) leaving us to wonder which NHL star will in the end have his Albert moment.

For those not familiar with the classic Canadian Tire commercial, Albert was that lonely soul left in the snow bank until the very end,  the last pick of the pick up game relegated to his brother's team, so eloquently assigned there with the traditional yelp of "he's your kid brother, you take him".

On dead end streets and outdoor rinks across North America, Albert would inevitably end up in the nets, but for the sake of a good television commercial, Albert was destined for greater things.

For those that have forgotten the classic vignette, or those that never had the chance to dream along with Albert, we offer up this reprise of that defining moment.

We find out on January 30th , just who will play the role of Albert in Raleigh.

Let the balloting for the short list begin!

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