25 NHL All-Star Game Snubs
All-Star snubs are, unfortunately, a recurring development, and a major reason why the NHL All-Star Game itself continues to lose its appeal with each passing season.
Surely, the NHL would learn its lesson sooner or later when it comes to the selection process...right?
From the looks of things, it's fairly obvious that nothing's changed.
Deserving players are left out for a variety of different excuses because, whether we like it or not, the All-Star game is what it is: a marketing venture.
Case in point: Alex Ovechkin was picked because he's a cover boy for the NHL, not necessarily because his current statistics merit an All-Star selection.
You might wonder why some pretty notable names aren't on this list, particularly Nicklas Lidstrom, Teemu Selanne, Jordan Eberle, Patrick Sharp, Nicklas Backstrom and Thomas Vanek.
Lidstrom and Selanne were asked to participate but declined. Eberle, Sharp, Backstrom and Vanek would've likely been as well, if not for the fact that they're presently injured.
There were a handful of players who could've made this slideshow and were also deserving of an All-Star invite, including Radim Vrbata, Duncan Keith, Pekka Rinne, Milan Lucic and Stephen Weiss, among others.
Here are 25 players who did not (to my knowledge) decline and aren't hurt, but were still snubbed.
NOTE: Players are grouped by position (forwards, defensemen, then goaltenders) and are not listed from "best" to "worst."
1. Patrik Elias, New Jersey Devils
Patrik Elias has 40 points in 42 games, and has been the Devils' best forward this season.
Not bad for a 35-year-old, especially one who plays for a team that's in the bottom-half of the league in scoring.
How Elias wasn't selected is beyond me, plain and simple.
2. Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey Devils
I can't seem to understand how someone who's a point-per-game player didn't merit an All-Star selection.
There isn't much to say, other than that his absence is downright mind-boggling.
Ilya Kovalchuk's amassed 38 points in just as many contests, and that's despite his horrific start to the 2011-12 season. He's a top-class sniper and, of late, has been a major factor for New Jersey in the team's quest for the playoffs.
3. Zach Parise, New Jersey Devils
With 38 points in 43 games, Zach Parise certainly deserved serious consideration for the All-Star game.
For some unfathomable reason, the NHL didn't share that same sentiment, which is why Parise will not be participating in the event.
Sure, we expected a bit more from Parise. He's in a contract year and generally puts up 80-90 points a season. And like Kovalchuk, Parise also had a slow start to his season.
Having said that, he's turned things around. And though star status has apparently been lost on the All-Star selection committee, that's not the case with this writer.
4. Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning
At age 36, Martin St. Louis hasn't slowed down one bit, racking up 33 points in 36 games this season.
He's still devastating when the puck's on his stick, and has the same speed, hands and offensive instincts that have made him an elite player for the last decade.
If St. Louis isn't an All-Star, I'm not sure who is.
5. Loui Eriksson, Dallas Stars
Loui Eriksson has 38 points in 41 games this season.
He's been a significant offensive threat for the Dallas Stars over the last few years, and this year's no exception.
Eriksson has better stats than a handful of players who made the All-Star game, and yet he was overlooked. The NHL dropped the ball here, period.
6. Kris Versteeg, Florida Panthers
I suppose posting nearly a point per game (39 in 41 contests this season) just doesn't cut it.
Versteeg's developed great chemistry with linemates Stephen Weiss and Tomas Fleischmann in Florida, and is a big reason why the Panthers currently find themselves atop the Southeast Division.
The NHL might not care, but much of the hockey world does and knows he was wrongfully snubbed.
7. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
Anze Kopitar has morphed into a top-notch hockey player over the last few years.
His LA Kings have struggled to produce offensively for much of this season, but you wouldn't know it from glancing at Kopitar's stats (37 points in 43 games).
I'm not quite sure how Anze didn't merit any consideration for the All-Star game, because he was certainly deserving.
8. James Neal, Pittsburgh Penguins
Since the start of the season, James Neal has done nothing but light the lamp, a feat he's accomplished 21 times thus far.
His 36 points are a major reason why the suddenly floundering Pens haven't completely fallen into oblivion, and that clearly went unnoticed by the All-Star selection committee.
9. Matt Moulson, New York Islanders
It simply amazes me how little attention Matt Moulson receives, considering what he's accomplished on the ice.
Two years ago, Moulson scored 30 goals. Last season, he found the back of the net 31 times. In 2011-12, he's notched 20 goals in 41 contests, putting him on pace for 40 by season's end.
Look me in the eye and tell me a 40-goal scorer doesn't deserve to be in the All-Star game. I double-dare you.
10. Scott Hartnell, Philadelphia Flyers
Hartnell's amassed 37 points in 41 games this season for the Flyers. Even more impressive: He's a plus-19.
Sure, part of that can be attributed to the chemistry he's had with Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr. Still, Hartnell has a nose for the net and the skills to maximize his situation.
Giroux can pass you the puck a zillion times, but it takes a talented player to convert on those opportunities, and Hartnell has done just that.
11. Jaromir Jagr, Philadelphia Flyers
Jaromir Jagr's fared well in his first season back from the KHL, racking up 32 points in 36 games for Philly.
Playing on a line with Claude Giroux, the NHL's leading scorer, Jagr's producing more than most people thought he would at age 39, and he's making it look rather easy.
He should have been asked to play in the All-Star game, not only because it might've been his last opportunity to do so, but because he also deserved it.
12. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Patrice Bergeron is one of the best two-way forwards in the game right now.
This season, Bergeron's racked up 36 points in 39 contests, sporting a plus-27 rating in the process. Honestly, they should just hand him the Selke Trophy now, because at this rate, he's a lock for the hardware.
Of course, there's no reason to believe the NHL won't snub him at the awards show, because they sure did for the All-Star game.
13. Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
Alain Vigneault might not be very fond of Brad Marchand, but much of the hockey world begs to differ.
Marchand has been red-hot since last year's playoffs, which of course ended with Boston winning the Stanley Cup by defeating Vigneault's Canucks in the finals.
The "experts" said Marchand would come crashing back down to earth this season.
His stats all but prove that they were dead wrong: Marchand's racked up 32 points (16 goals, 16 assists), with a plus-27 rating through 37 contests.
Like Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand was undeservingly snubbed.
14. Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks
Joe Thornton's a six-time All-Star and 2012 should've been his seventh.
Granted, he's not what he once was, but Thornton's still one heck of a hockey player, having notched 35 points in 39 games this season.
He's one of the best playmakers in the game, and his absence at the All-Star game is both noticeable and undeserving.
15. Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks
Patrick Marleau is also beginning to regress, but he's still a high-end talent in this league; his 35 points in 40 games are evidence of that.
He's well on his way to another 30-goal, 70-point campaign, and how that slipped past the NHL All-Star selection committee makes no sense whatsoever.
16. Valtteri Filppula, Detroit Red Wings
Raise your hand if you thought Valtteri Filppula would have more points than Henrik Zetterberg before the season started.
He does, at least for now. Filppula has 36 points in 42 games for the Red Wings, and he was their unsung hero over the first half.
Excuse him for having a last name other than Lidstrom, Datsyuk or Zetterberg.
17. Johan Franzen, Detroit Red Wings
"The Mule" has 37 points in 43 games this season, and though he's inconsistent, he's a fantastic player.
Franzen's always had top-notch offensive instincts, so it's no wonder he once scored four goals in a playoff game, and that he has 20 of them in 2011-12.
He'll finish with 35-40 at this rate, yet that's not enough for an All-Star selection? Get real, NHL.
18. Ray Whitney, Phoenix Coyotes
Ray Whitney is one of the most underrated players in the NHL, so it's no surprise he was overlooked for the All-Star game, an event he's been invited to just twice (2000, 2003).
He has more points (36) this season than a handful of those who made the cut (Logan Couture, Alex Ovechkin and Mikko Koivu, among others).
Whitney continues to find ways to produce, even at 39 years of age, and he was definitely snubbed.
19. Dan Boyle, San Jose Sharks
Dan Boyle has always been an offensive threat from the blue line and has 23 points this season, tied for 10th-most among defensemen.
That's also more than Dan Girardi, who's a very good hockey player, but by no stretch an All-Star.
Boyle sports a plus-11 rating too, and is responsible at both ends of the ice. He would've been an excellent choice for the All-Star game, but the NHL opted to exclude him.
20. Michael Del Zotto, New York Rangers
Del Zotto's come a long way since last season, when he spent most of his time playing for the Connecticut Whale (AHL).
His 23 points and plus-24 rating merited serious consideration for the All-Star game, but he was passed over. Del Zotto deserved a better shot than this.
21. John-Michael Liles, Toronto Maple Leafs
If Dion Phaneuf is the keystone of Toronto's defensive corps, John-Michael Liles is right behind him in that department.
Liles has always been a fairly productive defenseman, and he has 21 points through 34 games this season. He's been a godsend for the Leafs' power play and in the offensive zone.
I'd take him over Dustin Byfuglien in the All-Star game. I really would.
22. Kevin Bieksa, Vancouver Canucks
There's a reason why Vancouver chose to re-sign Kevin Bieksa and let Christian Ehrhoff walk. He's a special talent, and a superior one to Ehrhoff.
Ehrhoff (17 points, minus-11 rating) might be making more money thanks to the 10-year deal he signed with Buffalo, but Bieksa's got more points (25) and a better plus-minus (plus-six).
Bieksa also has just as many points as Keith Yandle—who was named to the All-Star game—and a better plus-minus than he as well.
I'm shocked he didn't get in. The NHL should've known better.
23. Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins
It's hard to argue with most of the goalies who were selected for the All-Star game, but there are a few who deserved the spot over Brian Elliott.
Elliott's been great, but it's simply too small a sample size for my liking. There are netminders who've shown sustained success over longer periods of time.
Marc-Andre Fleury is one example. His team has dropped six consecutive games, but don't blame Fleury—he has won 19 contests, and boasts a 2.29 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.
24. Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes
When the Coyotes lost Ilya Bryzgalov to free agency, everyone assumed they were done for. No one could envision that Phoenix would still be competing for a playoff spot, certainly not with Mike Smith between the pipes.
2011-12 has been a breakout year for Smith, who has 16 wins, a goals-against average of 2.36 and a .925 save percentage. He's given the Coyotes a reliable starting goaltender, which has been the biggest key to their success over the last couple of seasons in the desert.
Smith's shown he's a star goaltender right now, and seemingly everyone but the NHL recognizes that.
25. Antti Niemi, San Jose Sharks
Antti Niemi's been fantastic for the Sharks this season.
His 18-7-5 record only tells part of the story: His 2.33 goals-against average and .917 save percentage show that he's not merely a decent goaltender on a very good hockey team.
Niemi's the real deal, whether or not the NHL wants to acknowledge that fact.
Comments are welcome.
Follow Daniel Friedman on Twitter: @nyifaceoff360
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