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Monday, December 29, 2008

All-Star Game Voting is "a total joke"

From Puck Daddy on Yahoo! Sports today:

"As of 6:42 p.m. EST on Monday night, the Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings are under 10,000 votes for Scott Niedermayer away from not having a single representative in a starting position in the NHL All-Star Game. Not that this would make the ASG voting a total joke or anything, being that it already is. Help them Nicklas Lidstrom ... you're their only hope"

There are a few things I noticed while looking at the voting results today:

- Jean-Sebastien Giguere is now the leading goaltender in the Western Conference. Miikka Kiprusoff, Evgeni Nabokov and Niklas Backstrom all have better goaltender statistics than him in the west. Nabokov is currently third in votes among Western Conference goaltenders. Backstrom is a distant fifth. Kiprusoff currently has about 76,000 votes, more than 400,000 less than Giguere.

- Alexander Ovechkin, who is currently third in league scoring and second in goal scoring, is almost 580,000 votes away from being voted into the game. Jeff Carter and Thomas Vanek, who are currently competing with Ovechkin for the goal scoring lead, are nowhere near the top ten in Eastern Conference forwards.

- Sergei Gonchar, who has not played a game all season, is currently in second place amongst Eastern Conference defensemen. He is about 45,000 votes away from leading that group. Ryan Whitney, who has played three games this year, has a commanding grip on fourth place.

- The San Jose Sharks and Boston Bruins, who are currently leading the Western and Eastern Conferences respectively, do not have any players close to being voted into the game.

Boycott the NHL All-Star Game.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

NHL Players Agree: NHL All-Star Voting is Ridiculous

The NHL has put up "Decision '09," a blog that details the NHL All-Star Game Balloting.

The site is meant to draw enthusiasm and bring interest to the NHL All-Star voting.

However, all it does is show the fans exactly how ridiculous the voting is.

The blog has several posts that include interviews with NHL players. The players talk about the game and then each of them list who they think deserves to be on the team. Of course, who deserves to be on the team and who is actually making the team are different things.

All the NHL's All-Star Game blog succeeds at doing is showing the world that deserving players are not making the team.

For example:

"Right away, I think you have to have Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin on that team...They're the three best young forwards in the NHL right now and Crosby won the Art Ross and Hart Trophies the year before last. Ovechkin won the Art Ross and Hart Trophies last year. Malkin has been playing great all year." - Phil Kessel

The problem is that, due to fan voting, Ovechkin is no where close to making the starting line-up. He currently sits in sixth place, over 40,000 votes away from starting the game.

"Obviously, you've got to put Alexander Ovechkin on your first team. Put him at the left wing because I want to put the Philadelphia Flyers Jeff Carter on the right wing. He's leading the NHL in goals so I guess you have to pick him." - Ian White

Again, Ovechkin is far from being selected to the starting line-up and Jeff Carter is not even in the top ten. Carter has just over 30,000 votes. He is over 100,000 votes behind Thomas Vanek for tenth place in voting among Eastern Conference forwards.

"Shea Weber has done a nice job over there in Nashville, so maybe he deserves to go." - Dan Boyle

We're sorry, but Shea Weber is almost 40,000 votes away from being voted in. Dan Boyle himself needs almost 20,000 votes to make the Western Conference starting line-up.

The NHL's own blog points out that the best players, players who would be chosen by their peers to start the game, will not be in the starting line-up due to the ridiculousness of fan voting.

Of course, the blog also picks up on one of the most bizarre aspects of the voting.

"Amazingly, Pittsburgh's Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whiney sit at No. 3 and No. 4 in Eastern Conference voting despite not playing yet this year. Gonchar, injured in the exhibition season and out until after the All-Star Game, is just 150,000 votes behind second-place Mike Komisarek of Montreal.

Whitney, who has been out since before training camp, is again skating with the team in preparation of his return. He is 30,000 votes behind Gonchar.

Even Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, currently on IR, has closed within 155,000 votes of Montreal's Carey Price, the positional leader."

Why the NHL would choose to spotlight the fact that injured players are gaining in votes is incredibly confusing.

The fact that the league seems to be promoting the selection of injured players as a good thing undermines the entire game.

Again, through its own blog, the NHL is showing the world that its voting procedure is ridiculous and that, due to the policy that fans can vote as often as they want through electronic means, the best players in the league will not be in the starting line-up.

The NHL All-Star Game should be boycotted.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The General Public Agrees: NHL All-Star Voting is Ridiculous

Here are a few of the best comments posted thus far on the wall of our boycott Facebook group and in the comments section of the original post proposing a boycott.

"You honestly cant sit there and vote in Ryan Whitney and Sergei Gonchar when they have been injured all season and havent played at all." - Jim Johnston, December 8th

"voting an unlimited amount of times is ridiculous." - Adam Bowman, December 1st

"The NHL needs to wake up... after last year's Fitzpatrick fiasco they would've learned their lesson, right? Right???" - Chris Cirne, December 13th

"how does cary price get on the ballot and not Tim Thomas? What a sham" - Shawn Williamson, November 26th

"They players, coaches, and general managers should vote on who should play. Then the deserving will actually make the team. I love the Penguins, but why the hell is Gonchar and Whitney even on the ballot? They haven't even played yet! If you want the fans to vote on something, let them vote on who participates in the skills competition" Adam Bowman, November 27th

"If Gonchar and Whitney are among the vote leaders, us Penguins fans would not agree with that either" - Anonymous, November 26th

"we're pissed in boston about tim thomas is getting the shaft" - Cameron Frye, November 26th

"Guys, I HAVE voted for a Habs player!!!! and I'm still insulted by this. It has NOTHING to do with the Canadians winning the spots, It has to do with the irresponsible way the NHL has acted about the whole thing." - Life_As_A_Redhead, November 26th

"The NHL should be ashamed of themselves. The whole thing is a joke.Their statement that Montreal fans are showing us how its done was condescending." - Anonymous, November 26th

"Let's vote in guys who don't deserve it because of performance or injury but still get starting spots because of their name alone.... it makes the all star celebration a joke no matter who makes the team." - Anonymous, November 29th

"We are not complaining that the leaders are Montreal Canadiens, we are complaining that the fan ballot box is easily spoofed/stuffed and that maybe an alternative method of voting should be used." - MattC, December 2nd

The NHL is giving itself major PR problems with how they have been handling the voting.

This situation makes the NHL as a whole look amateur and third-rate.

The Mainstream Media Agrees: NHL All-Star Voting is Ridiculous

"The shame of it all is that the NHL is contributing to this embarrassment...This charade in the East must be stopped. And soon." - The Montreal Gazette, November 29th

"The good news is that the Montreal Canadiens no longer hold down all six starting spots for this year's NHL All-Star game. The bad news is that now Pittsburgh fans are making an equal, if not worse, farce of the voting." - The National Post, December 16th

"Injured Pens goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who has been sidelined for a month, and injured defensemen Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney, who have yet to play this season, have now moved up in the results to challenge Canadiens at those positions as well." - Slap Shot blog at the New York Times, December 14th

"The NHL should be absolutely ashamed of itself for promoting the fact that Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins is 'threatening to break Jaromir Jagr's all-time record for the most votes received in one year of NHL All-Star fan balloting'...the NHL needs to admit in these all-star game press releases that the vote totals have been inflated this year; either through illegal means that have since been "corrected" or through new technologies that allow fans to vote for an entire block of players with one cell phone text message." - Puck Daddy blog at Yahoo! Sports, December 16th

The All-Star Game, and the voting issues that have surrounded it, have become a huge joke.

Whether it be because of what players were included on the ballot (Gonchar and Whitney on and Tim Thomas off), or the Canadiens' fans JavaScript voting, or the Penguins organization organizing text voting, it's a joke.

For the record, however, mass text voting (which is how the Penguins' players moved up the ranks) is not against the rules. It is ridiculous that Gonchar and Whitney benefit however, since they won't be able to play. It also seems kind of petty on behalf of Penguins management.

Regardless of who you ask, the NHL's response to this sham voting is pathetic. They have chosen to issue press releases praising the fans for their "work" rather than come up with any sort of strategy that would legitimize this joke of a game.

The boycott continues.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Boycott Update

The New York Times hockey blog, Slap Shot, put up a very good post yesterday regarding the All-Star voting ridiculousness.

I particularly like the ending of the post:

"Fan-stuffing of All-Star ballot boxes has a long, inglorious history. In 1957, Cincinnatians selected seven Reds to start in baseball’s midsummer classic. The effort got a boost from the Cincinnati Enquirer which printed and distributed pre-marked ballots in a Sunday edition for readers to submit. Commissioner Ford Frick stepped in, imposed Willie Mays and Hank Aaron into the starting lineup and then ended fan balloting. It didn’t return for 13 years.

Where are you, Ford Frick, when we really need you?"

The NHL All-Star Game is still over a month away and we need your help to spread the word. You can join our Facebook group here or download some graphics to show your support here.

Thank you.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Boycott Is Still On

As you may know, Sidney Crosby is now leading the Eastern Conference voting. This changes nothing in regards to our boycott of the 2009 NHL All-Star Game.

To repeat what has been said before, the boycott was not organized in response to Crosby or Malkin's exclusion from the game. It was not created due to Montreal Canadiens leading the voting. It was created in response to the amateur, shameful way the NHL has dealt with the All-Star Game voting. They have ignored the use of voting scripts by fans of multiple teams and this has tainted the All-Star selection.

There were initially rumours and evidence that some Canadiens fans were using JavaScript to vote for their players. There are now rumours and evidence that some Penguins fans have been doing the same in regards to Sidney Crosby.

Montreal players, Penguins players, Red Wings players, and players from around the National Hockey League have received thousands of legitimate votes but, due to the NHL's refusal to implement a process that would eliminate automated voting, all of those votes are tainted. No one can say for sure that their favourite player has not received illegal votes, and thus the entire process and the entire All-Star Game look illegitimate.

Therefore we continue to stand by our decision to boycott the 2009 NHL All-Star Game and hope that you will continue to support the boycott.

Please spread the word and join our Facebook group to support the cause.

Thank you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

NHL Continues to Ignore Voting Issues, Tries to Pit Penguins Fans Against Canadiens Fans

The NHL simply doesn't get it.

In a press release posted today the NHL states that "Responding to the daunting challenge issued by the devoted fans of the Montreal Canadiens, the citizens of Pittsburgh and Penguins fans around the world are proving just how passionate they are about their heroes."

The article also mentions that "Canadiens fans haven’t eased up at all since storming the virtual polls the moment they opened."

This is the wrong path for the NHL to take.

From the beginning we have said that the boycott has nothing to do with Canadiens' players being named to the team. The issue is with the voting irregularities that were never correctly addressed and the fact that voting through scripts undermines the All-Star Game and the National Hockey League.

Now the NHL has taken this situation and turned into Canadiens fans versus Penguins fans. They would love to see Crosby and Malkin rise in the votes and have them voted onto the team just as much as they would love to see Canadiens fans try to prevent that from happening.

Sadly, the NHL's moves are working.

A post on the Pittsburgh Penguins Official Message Board makes reference to a Pittsburgh Penguins voting script being used. Through its previous actions the NHL has shown fans that voting by script will not only be tolerated, but they have encouraged it. They have equated "automatically voting via JavaScript" with "devoted fans."

We mentioned last week that this was a dangerous and irresponsible path for the NHL to take, and it has clearly continued down its path of denial and secrecy.

We continue to stand by our intention to boycott the game regardless of who is selected onto the team due to the inaction of the NHL.

This is a nonpartisan boycott. Many people have assumed that we are calling for a boycott simply because members of the Penguins were not leading the balloting. That is simply not true.

Thank you to The Steel City Sports Fan for bringing this article to our attention.

Boycott the NHL All-Star Game

Originally posted at

The Montreal Canadiens are running away with the votes for the Eastern Conference All-Star team. At first glance it would appear that the team's dedicated fan base has come out to support their team.

This is not true.

Two weeks ago a poster at The Pensblog discovered a voting javascript posted on the Montreal Canadiens official message board.

Shortly afterwards the CBC reported that "the NHL is investigating a suspicious spike in votes for Montreal Canadiens players in all-star fan balloting."

NHL spokesman Gary Meaghar told CBC that "there is some indication that something has happened" and people assumed that the skewed results, caused by small group of cheaters who were ruining the online All-Star ballot for everyone, would be fixed.

This did not happen.

Many expected that the NHL would at least firmly admit that something unfair had taken place, but would not adjust the votes.

This did not happen.

What did happen was that the NHL issued a press release stating that "Montreal fans continue to show the rest of North America how XM NHL® All-Star Fan Balloting presented by 2K Sports is done" and applauded their efforts. They're attempting to ignore the issue and cover it up with positive spin.

In response, we have decided to boycott the NHL All-Star Game.

We will not watch the NHL All-Star Game until the NHL formally admits that tampering has taken place. We do not wish to see any votes thrown out as the invalid votes are likely impossible to detect at this point. We do not wish to see the votes adjusted. We have no problem with the Eastern Conference All-Star team being made up entirely of Montreal Canadiens players. The problem we have is with the way the NHL has chosen to sweep this issue under the rug and pretend that nothing improper has happened.

The official All-Star Fan Balloting rules state "Automatic, programmed, scripted and/or robotic votes or Promotion entries are not permitted." Yet, when the NHL is presented with proof that the results are due to automatic voting and when a spokesperson for the league states that it is very likely that automatic voting took place, the NHL waits and then tries to spin this situation into a positive one.

The automatic voting has stopped since the installation of a captcha and a one-vote-per-minute voting rule, but all this has done is make the Canadiens' players' leads insurmountable. It is irresponsible, and just plain bad business, that the NHL set up an online vote without installing any sort of features that would prevent automated voting.

This situation makes the NHL as a whole look bad.

And so today we are calling on you to join us. Boycott the NHL All-Star Game.

If you are a fan of any NHL team and you feel that the way this has been handled is insulting and irresponsible, join us.

Canadiens fans who do not want to see their team branded as "cheaters" due to the actions of a very small portion of the team's fan base, join us.

Anyone who is upset with how the NHL continues to run the league as a second-rate organization, join us.

Let us state again that we do not want to see the votes changed.

We have no problem with all six Canadiens being voted onto the team.

Having six Canadiens voted onto the All-Star team during the franchise's 100th season would, quite frankly, be amazing. We just wish the votes would have been recorded legitimately.

Our issue is with the NHL and how they have handled the situation.

Of course, the NHL could make things right. They could admit that there was an error. They could publicly state that some votes were made automatically but that nothing can be done at this point. All they have to do is admit that there was a mistake and we will watch the All-Star game.

Until they do, we will encourage others to join our boycott.

Please, if you agree with our points stated above, boycott the NHL All-Star Game.

Join our Facebook group to support the cause.

Spread this message to everyone you know.

Perhaps with a little dedication we can make the NHL see what they have done wrong.

Perhaps we can restore the reputation of the NHL, the All-Star Game, and the Montreal Canadiens.

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Boycott the NHL All-Star Game

Boycott the NHL All-Star Game

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I'm Boycotting the 2009 NHL All-Star Game

I'm Boycotting the 2009 NHL All-Star Game

I'm Boycotting the 2009 NHL All-Star Game

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