While there are people getting all hyped about the ECHL All-Star Game that is going to happen in Indianapolis January 15th; there’s an interesting turn that Justin Cohn of the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette brought up in the midst of talking about guys who may have gotten snubbed for this honor of going to the game.
Oh, and BTW, there are three regular-season games the same day as the ECHL All-Star Classic. So imagine if you are playing, say, a rival, and lose your best player, but they do not.
— Justin A. Cohn (@SportsiCohn) January 4, 2018
And lo and behold, Atlanta hosts Florida, Tulsa is in Allen, and Rapid City heads to Utah for three games. Florida will be without goalie Martin Ouellette, Atlanta without high-scoring forward Phil Lane, Allen’s top offensive-defenseman David Makowski, Tulsa’s Conner Bleackley, Rapid City’s top offensive threat Dante Salituro, and Utah’s rookie defensmen Cliff Watson will all be out of the line-up as they take part in the 3-on-3 tournament that the ECHL is putting on.
What professional league does something so silly to have one of their marquee events, which is put on the NHL Network, while regular season DIVISIONAL GAMES are taking place??
Sure, Rapid City is way out of the playoffs and Florida is having a helluva season, but everyone else is in the thick of the playoff race. As Cohn mentioned, what if you’re playing a rival where one of your top guys is out for an exhibition game like this and you lose two big points because of something like this??
To play the Devil’s advocate, though– this could happen if the top guy was called up to the AHL on a PTO or whatever, so it’s a situation that could happen and teams have to have adapt as they need to in order to succeed. Yet, it’s not an AHL or NHL team that moving the guys away from the line-up. The league itself, the play you pay your franchise fee to is pulling some of your best players out of the line-up of a regular season game for an exhibition.
AND THAT’S NOT ALL– by my count– seven of the top-10 in league scoring are not going to be appearing at the game. Why would you have that many top scorers out of that line-up?? Sure, you want to have every team represented and there’s a lot of guys on the same team that are in the top scoring list (Cincinnati, Greenville, Fort Wayne), but to have your best players not playing is a disservice to your league, to your fans, and to the NHL Network– who would want the best of the best to show off the ECHL.
There’s better ways to show off the league– like a Game of the Week that’s not on Facebook or on the so-so ECHL.TV broadcasts they have now. The league should lobby the NHL Network to put on a highly produced game twice a month or so. But to have the league still going on while the rest of the league is trying to sell a premier event is the biggest head-scratcher of them all.