RALEIGH NC - JANUARY 28: A general view inside the NHL Fan Fair part of 2011 NHL All-Star Weekend at the Raleigh Convention Center on January 28 2011 in Raleigh North Carolina. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
So I watched some of the NHL All-Star fantasy draft coverage on Versus* yesterday (note the asterik, we'll get to that later). This was while also crashing Litter Box Cats and their open thread for the draft.
The local drama of the evening, at least for Lightning fans, was if Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos would end up on Nicklas Lidstrom's team. That ended rather quickly when Eric Staal opted for Cam Ward as the #1 overall pick of the 2011 NHL All-star fantasy draft. How do you pass up Stamkos as a #2 pick?
"Team Classy", by the way was a nickname pegged for Team Lidstrom by Raw Charge member DetroitALLtheWay09 as an alternative to Down Goes Brown's nickname for Team Lidstrom (Team Grandpa). Why classy? Look at all the rings these guys have won in the post season. Team Staal, on the other hand, has been re-dubbed Team Spaceballs by yours truly after events during the aforementioned open thread last night. ("I knew it, I'm surrounded by Staals.")
I brought up Marty and Stamkos being paired together, but long time Lightning fans have to be happy with the fact Marty and Dallas Stars center Brad Richards are reunited, too. Richards, of course, is a former member of the Lightning and played with St. Louis on one of the most potent line combinations in team history and helped secure Lord Stanley's Cup for Bolts in 2004.
Of course, the only thing that would make it even better would be to have had Dan Boyle selected by Team Classy, but Martin St. Louis told St. Pete Times beat writer Damian Cristodero that the give-an-take with his fellow Team Lidstrom captains prevented that from happening.
Now, about that Versus* remark:
Versus didn't cover the event. This was a co-opted TSN telecast. TSN doesn't just have preferred status with the league regarding coverage -- they have an outright monopoly covering marquee events like this weekend. I can understand not wanting to clutter things up with too-may-cooks-in-the-kitchen regarding TV Cameras in players faces, but to have TSN run the entire show puts an exclamation point on cheesy and corny.
...which follows along the league with every event TSN gets to telecast exclusively. Be it the NHL Awards, the Draft, the Draft Lottery, etc.
Don't get me wrong, the exclusivity of coverage is what probably helps the league excel in Canada with TV ratings: No competition amongst networks, so people know where to go. It applies to continued nostalgia in the US for ESPN's coverage of the NHL: Go-to network. It was the only national sports network with a broad reach, and strong following...
I really don't care for having the same ridiculous productions year after year. Sure, the draft was sort of gimmick, but the entire episode's gimmicky-ness was accentuated by the corny cheese of TSN's broadcast shoved down everyone's throat. Instead of celebrating the players (as the All-Star weekend is supposed to do), the players were made a backdrop to TSN personalities.
It'd have been nice for the media to get to talk to player s post-selection, up close. Or other interviews to happen. But as Cassie highlighted in her report from this morning, it all depended on who stuck around post-draft to talk to media... And media getting quality access was for not, while TSN got the up-close-and-personal opportunities.