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The keeper of the Stanley Cup places it in a sleigh to be skated by youngsters down the Rideau Canal Skateway during the opening ceremonies to the All-Star weekend in Ottawa on Thursday, January 26, 2012.


All across the country, hockey fans will be taking out the trash, moving furniture, walking the dog – anything but watching the NHL All-Star Game.

It's a game that means nothing and puts people to sleep faster than a warm cup of milk. It features no slap shots, no hitting, no speed, nothing. Just don't get hurt, is the motto. The passion of players is gone. It's an exercise, nothing more, not even a skills contest. A skills contest would be better.

It's time to kick the All-Star game to the curb.

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And the Fantasy draft on Thursday night? Why on God's icy earth would it be called a Fantasy draft when real people are picking real teams that will play in a televised game? Isn't a fantasy draft a thing that fans do for fun, picking imaginary teams for themselves?

All over Canada, hockey fans will twiddle their thumbs through this weekend, with no real NHL fixes, and not even any NFL football. The All-Star break is a break in the action for spectators as well.

Give it up.

The "Fantasy" draft was a snore, as well, and not exactly riveting television. Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara picked a team of skill, including the controversial Tim Thomas, the spiciest part of the night. Ottawa Senators chief Daniel Alfredsson picked a host of fellow Swedes and Senators. The draft, for heaven's sake, was modeled after kids picking teams in a road-hockey game, with all the favouritism and potential spitefulness that entails. Phil Kessel isn't enamoured of it, suggesting it was time for a change of format.

Choosing teams is nice for fans, Kessel said, but not for players. Still, the hour-long show should have been half an hour. Perhaps they were trying to create suspense. It didn't work.

And worst of all, the game is missing the league's top two players: Sidney Crosby, who is still fighting concussion syndrome and a pouting Alexander Ovechkin, who took a three-game penalty for an illegal hit, and said his heart wasn't in playing the All-Star Game.

His game is an aggressive one. It's not All-Star material.

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Nicklas Lidstrom, captain of an All-Star team a year ago, and popular Finn Teemu Selanne also declined invitations.

Isn't that telling us something?

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