Earlier this week, New York Rangers defenseman and alternate captain Marc Staal and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist were selected to play in the 58th NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 30.
The selections are the first for Staal, the Rangers’ first-round pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, and the second for Lundqvist, who is the only goalie in league history to record 30 wins in each of his first five seasons.
Rookie center Derek Stepan will be joining Staal and Lundqvist at the RBC Center, home of the Carolina Hurricanes, as a proud member of the 12-rookie contingent chosen to participate in the weekend’s skills competition.
Surprisingly, left winger Brandon Dubinsky, the Rangers’ leading scorer this season, was not selected, one among several All-Star snubs that have become hot topics for debates domestically and internationally.
This year’s selection process featured the fans voting for six starters (three forwards, two defensemen, one goaltender) as per usual.
The players voted in by the fans were Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, defenseman Kris Letang, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, and Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews and defenseman Duncan Keith.
But as part of a new format, the league filled out the remaining 36 roster spots by choosing 21 forwards, 10 defensemen and five goalies, with each of the 30 teams represented either in the game or by a rookie in the skills competition.
In an effort to distinguish this season’s All-Star Game from years prior, and those of the other major sports leagues, former Rangers winger and current NHL Vice President of Hockey & Business Development Brendan Shanahan birthed the idea to give players the power to determine the composition of the rosters.
As a result, the 42 players selected to play in the All-Star Game will appoint two team captains and four alternate captains, consisting of two forwards and one defenseman per team.
The captains and the alternates will then select their team members in a fantasy-style draft to be held on Jan. 28. The first pick will be determined by a coin toss and picks will continue to alternate for all subsequent rounds.
Teams must consist of 12 forwards, six defensemen, and three goaltenders, but they may be chosen in any order.
This marks the first time the traditional "East vs. West" format will not be used since 2002, when the World All-Star Team defeated North America, 8-5, in Los Angeles.
Now, in all likelihood, the NHL will never match the popularity of the MLB, NBA, and NFL, but, at the very least, it can be said “the beautiful game on ice” is willing to experiment with new and innovative ways to contribute to the excitement and intrigue of their product.
Imagine the combinations that could result and the debates that would be sparked if players selected to play in the MLB All-Star Game, the NBA All-Star Game, and the Pro Bowl were allowed to choose sides, just like at the playground.
The world of sports has become big business in today’s day and age, but sports are also supposed to be fun, and the NHL’s new All-Star Game format is a small reminder of this poignant fact.
36 additional All-Stars selected by NHL
Corey Perry – Anaheim Ducks
Jarome Iginla – Calgary Flames
Eric Staal – Carolina Hurricanes
Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks
Patrick Sharp – Chicago Blackhawks
Matt Duchene – Colorado Avalanche
Rick Nash – Columbus Blue Jackets
Loui Eriksson – Dallas Stars
Brad Richards – Dallas Stars
Ales Hemsky – Edmonton Oilers
Anze Kopitar – Los Angeles Kings
Patrik Elias – New Jersey Devils
Claude Giroux – Philadelphia Flyers
David Backes – St. Louis Blues
Steven Stamkos – Tampa Bay Lightning
Martin St. Louis – Tampa Bay Lightning
Phil Kessel – Toronto Maple Leafs
Ryan Kesler – Vancouver Canucks
Henrik Sedin – Vancouver Canucks
Daniel Sedin – Vancouver Canucks
Alex Ovechkin – Washington Capitals
Dustin Byfuglien – Atlanta Thrashers
Tobias Enstrom – Atlanta Thrashers
Zdeno Chara – Boston Bruins
Niklas Lidstrom – Detroit Red Wings
Brent Burns – Minnesota Wild
Shea Weber – Nashville Predators
Marc Staal – New York Rangers
Erik Karlsson – Ottawa Senators
Dan Boyle – San Jose Sharks
Mike Green – Washington Capitals
Jonas Hiller – Anaheim Ducks
Tim Thomas – Boston Bruins
Cam Ward – Carolina Hurricanes
Carey Price – Montreal Canadiens
Henrik Lundqvist – New York Rangers
Cam Fowler – Anaheim Ducks
Tyler Seguin – Boston Bruins
Tyler Ennis – Buffalo Sabres
Jeff Skinner – Carolina Hurricanes
Kevin Shattenkirk – Colorado Avalanche
Jordan Eberle – Edmonton Oilers
Taylor Hall – Edmonton Oilers
Evgeny Dadonov – Florida Panthers
Michael Grabner – New York Islanders
Derek Stepan – New York Rangers
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Phoenix Coyotes
Logan Couture – San Jose Sharks