After announcing the 42-player All Star roster last week, the lineup momentarily dropped down to 41 yesterday when Calgary captain Jarome Iginla stepped out of the opportunity.
Iginla said that he needed valuable time to spend with his grandmother, who is in poor health at the moment. Iginla already lost his grandfather earlier this season.
Just a while later, the NHL named Philadelphia's Danny Briere as the replacement. The Flyers, who won the Eastern Conference last season and look like one of the top favorites again this year, surprisingly sent only one player, Claude Giroux, to the game when the original roster was announced.
Briere, age 33, will enter the All-Star Game leading the Flyers in points with 41, tied for 21st in the league. The Canadian also boasts five 25-plus goal seasons over his 13 year career.
However, it looks as if Briere may have argued his way into this position. Other than a 95-point season with Buffalo in 2006-07, Briere's career stats are not as impressive as several other non-included All-Star deserving players from around the NHL. It was clear Briere was upset to be left off when the list was announced, and it seems as if his whining may have unfairly earned him a spot.
Here's a glance at a few others who were bypassed by the NHL in its' decision.
The Detroit Red Wings, who have won the Western Conference two of the past three years and are second in it at the moment, were also snubbed by not having a representative forward headed to Raleigh. Henrik Zetterberg, most definitely, was dealt the biggest blow.
Zetterberg, a 30-year old veteran, leads the Wings this season with 51 points, seventh in the league, and 35 assists, fourth in the league. He's never played fewer than 61 games in a single year, a number Briere has dropped below six times, and has averaged 71.5 points over the last four seasons including this one, an insanely better number than Briere's 47.75 mark.
San Jose's leading scorer with 43 points, two more than Briere, Dany Heatley is still 29 and has already topped the 100-point plateau twice in his career, notching 103 in '05-'06 and 105 in '06-'07 with the Ottawa Senators.
Despite his somewhat declining production, Heatley has still scored 41, 39 and 39 goals each of the last three seasons heading into this one and was named to a stacked Team Canada last February for the Winter Olympics. For his career, which began with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2001, Heatley has 668 points in 636 games and has averaged 69.75 points over the past four years, including the ongoing one right now.
23-year old Nicklas Backstrom may not have nearly as many years of experience as many of the other guys on this list, but he's one of the NHL's brightest stars for the future and deserves to have his first career All-Star appearance sometime soon.
In his rookie year, 2007-08, Backstrom began designating himself as the Washington Capitals' designated playmaker when he racked up 55 assists (and 14 goals) along with a plus-13 rating. The next season, Backstrom had 22 goals, 66 assists and a plus-16 rating. Last year, Backstrom broke through yet again with 33 goals and 68 assists, hitting triple digits for his point total, and also added a whopping plus-37 rating. He was named to Team Sweden for the Winter Olympics.
Although the former fourth overall pick has averaged 75 points over the first four seasons of his career (he has 11 goals and 33 assists this year), Backstrom has still never been in an All-Star game and was cut short of a great opportunity here, especially with the high-powered Capitals sending only one forward.
It's not only these three superstars that could've argued their case for a spot on the original roster and have the right to be especially upset they weren't taken in as a replacement. Fellow Flyer Jeff Carter and Philadelphia captain Mike Richards, Backstrom's Washington linemate Alexander Semin, Buffalo's Thomas Vanek and the struggling Isles' John Tavares were also all ignored.
The lack of consideration of so many higher-quality players than Briere certainly makes us wonder.
Mark Jones is currently Bleacher Report's featured columnist for the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes. In his two years so far with the site, he has written over 245 articles and received over 235,000 total reads.
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