Last year it was Kid Rock, this year it’s equal pay. It seems if there’s a way to bring controversy to the NHL’s All Star Game (ASG), then the NHL can find a way. The #paydecker campaign found a resolution when equipment manufacturer CCM recognised Brianna Decker’s achievement and offered the $25k. The NHL then jumped on, but missed the bandwagon by agreeing to make charity donations in the names of the Decker, Renata Fast, Kendall Coyne Schofield and Rebecca Johnston. Why the NHL didn’t foresee any issues with having female skaters ‘demonstrate’ the events that their male counterparts would take part in is beyond me. But it is what it is, Decker got paid for being the rightful champion of the passing contest (but not the recognition) and some charities benefited too. So what does the NHL do next year?

Open up the All Star Game to the NWHL and CWHL

Let’s take a moment to reflect on what the ASG is. It’s an exhibition event. It’s a showcase for the best and brightest in the NHL (without a doctor’s note) to have some fun and break up a busy schedule. The ASG allows the NHL to try new technologies or rules. It also allows players to earn a little extra pocket money (and the NHL a big slice of money). Whether you’re a fan of the ASG or not, it fulfils the exact purpose that it’s supposed to.

What it does not do is have any effect on how your team performs in the regular season. Detroit don’t get a bonus point if Jimmy Howard makes a lot of saves (Editor’s Note: Which he doesn’t). Patrick Kane‘s silky glove skills don’t give Chicago a free coaches’ challenge. In the grand scheme of things, the event is a non-event, albeit a fun one, if that’s your thing.

As an exhibition event, it makes sense to showcase the best that the profession has to offer. All three pro hockey leagues have their own All Star Game, so why not combine them into one, amazing weekend? The ASG, somehow, brings in crazy amounts of viewers (probably as there’s no proper football that weekend), and while that’s good for the NHL, the potential exposure for NWHL and CWHL would be phenomenal.

While #paydecker was trending on twitter, the usual prejudices were present, essentially boiling down to ‘it’s a man’s game’ and other derogatory nonsense. There is no good argument why events can’t be combined, the times put in by the ‘demonstrators’ confirmed that the ladies can hold their own. There were many arguments why Decker wasn’t eligible for the prize money, from the technical pedants to the moronic misogyny. But none of these arguments are any good. There’s no guarantee that the three parties want to share their respective events, but as the biggest player, it falls on the NHL to open this dialogue and ask the question ahead of the 2020 ASG in St. Louis.

I asked on Twitter if you think the ASG should be opened up the NWHL and CWHL:

What do you think about this proposal? Comment below or join in the conversation on twitter!

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