Blake Deserves To Be an All-Star|
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Thursday, December 21, 2006
Fans around the league are slowly beginning to notice the player that fans on Long Island have fell in love with over the past four seasons, seeing him develop from a speedy fourth line pest, to a bona-fide goal scorer in the NHL. They’re starting to see the real Jason Blake; they’re seeing a player that by all means should be an All-Star this year, there’s only one problem; he’s not on the ballot.
Coming off of a natural hat trick against the New York Rangers and points in 13 of his last 15 games, Blake has silenced the numerous critics that thought his production would decline when his linemate Alexei Yashin was injured. Nevertheless, while Blake has proven he can play without Yashin, he’s been even better since Yashin returned two games ago.
To fans however, Yashin, who’s playing his best hockey as an Islander this season, doesn’t show the same kind of passion on the ice as Blake does. Fans know how talented Yashin is and how effortless he makes things look when he’s on the ice and playing to his fullest ability. However, Blake’s consistent hustle and grittiness has shown Isles fans just how badly he wants the team to succeed, regardless of what anyone else in the NHL says, stealing their hearts in the process.
“I think Blake is one of the most talented players on the team. He’s not the biggest player, but he has the biggest heart; it shows every game,” says Isles fan Connie Smeriglio. “He definitely needs to be on the All-Star team.”
With 19 goals through the first 32 games of the season, Blake is in sixth place in the league in goals and third in powerplay tallies, with every other player ahead of him having played more games than the former Hobey Baker finalist. Considering stats like these, you’d think Blake would be a lock to make the All-Star team, right?
Currently, Blake isn’t even on the top thirty in the voting and unless he’s chosen by a coach, or Islander fans start voting for Blake the way the rest of the NHL is currently voting for Rory Fitzpatrick, the Islanders sparkplug may find himself sitting on the couch during the All-Star game than be on the ice with the rest of the elite NHL talent, where he belongs.
One can understand why the NHL put Isles sniper Miroslav Satan on the ballot after he led the Isles in goals this past season, but why they put Alexei Zhitnik, who was traded last weekend to the Flyers, after he played in only 59 games the year before and wasn’t spectacular by any means is beyond anyone. That spot could have easily done to Jason Blake. Instead, now the Islanders have one player on the ballot.
Truth be told, the NHL has no excuse to not have either Blake or Yashin on the ballot. It would seem plausible if both Blake and Yashin were two hot rookies or two players coming back to NHL after a long exodus, but considering the fact that these two players have arguably been the team’s two best players for the past four seasons, the NHL has to admit that they have a problem with the voting system. While Yashin has much better chance to be selected to the team by a coach, it’s a shame that a player like Blake can’t be there as well.
And the NHL wonders why fans are voting for Rory Fitzpatrick.