I know we all know that James Tiberius Howard is an All-Star. I think we can all agree that he's right in the thick of the Vezina conversation also. I've been a staunch supporter of Howie ever since he facewashed Crosby in his rookie year. He deserved the Calder that year - he deserves to be in the All-Star game this year. But how realistic is it that Red Wings Nation can vote him in?I think all hockey fans discovered early on that All-Star voting was nothing more than a "who's fanbase can stuff the ballot box harder" contest. By the close of voting, it was Crosby, Malkin, Toews, Letang and Duncan Keith as the skaters with Marc-Andre Fleury between the pipes. Three Pens and two Blackhawks? Yeah, that sure seems representative of the entire NHL fanbase to me. Even with my intense hatred for those teams I can agree that they are extremely talented players that deserved to be in Raleigh (okay, maybe not Fleury, but I digress...), but isn't it just a tad ridiculous that Lidstrom, the eventual Norris winner, wasn't one of the defenseman? Or Tim Thomas, who was in the middle of a record setting season, didn't get in as the goaltender?
This year we're doing a little better. Looking at the latest leadebroards on NHL.com, Tim Thomas is topping the goalie list and he again deserves it. Phil Kessel leads the forwards and he's off to a blazing hot start. Hell, even the defenseman on top, Erik Karlsson, is having a pretty good year with 23 points (only 2 goals and a minus-2 though...but again, I digress). Move down any of those lists, though, and things start to get a little insane. Daniel Alfredsson has as many points as Crosby...in 13 more games. Oh, he's also a minus-4 to Crosby's plus-7. I don't even like Crosby, but that's crazy. Toews, Stamkos, Datsyuk - all having better years than any Senator. Yet, they are far down the voting leaderboards. So instead of Hawks and Pens fans ballot stuffing this year, it looks like Senators fans are picking up the slack. Hey, I've done it too. Zetterberg isn't exactly having a career year and he was on my ballot. However, so were Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, at least for a few votes (never in place of Lidstrom, though. I try to be fair, not crazy). Jimmy Howard, though? My #1 goaltender, every time.
Which finally brings me to Mr. Howard. He currently sits behind such goaltending powerhouses as Ilya "We Solved Our Goaltending Crisis By Overpaying An Average Goaltender" Bryzgalov and Roberto "My Job Got Stolen By A Ginger" Luongo. He's just ahead of Martin "I've Benefited From The Trap More Than Anyone In The History Of Ever" Brodeur. Crawford, Fleury, Rinne (who I am actually a huge fan of)...they all have worse numbers than Jim. But Jimmy Howard plays for the Red Wings. You aren't a good goalie if you play for the Red Wings. Howard is over 115, 000 votes behind second place. That's a big hill to climb 30 (or 90, if you vote on all three platforms) votes at a time.
I think it's time to accept that Jimmy isn't going to get the votes. Do we stop the campaign? Hell, no. We need to show that we support our goaltender. Really, we need to show the rest of the NHL that Detroit can recognize real goaltending talent. We don't want Chris Osgood in the Hall of Fame just because he was a Red Wing. We want him in because he has over 400 wins and three Cup rings. We want Jimmy Howard in the All-Star game because he is an All-Star goalie.
So does Jimmy Howard play in Ottawa on January 29th? Like I said above, I don't think we can vote him in. I do think it's impossible for the NHL to ignore the season he's having. He'll be there with all the confidence and swagger we expect from Tiberius. And while the League's supposedly "elite" goalies are golfing, Jim Howard will be helping the Wings to their 12th Stanley Cup.
Vote Jimmy for the All-Star Game!