You’ve got to hand it to the NHL for at least trying to make its All-Star Game interesting.
Many of the top players don’t even want to be there. Nicklas Lidstrom and Teemu Selanne were allowed to ask out while Alex Ovechkin pulled out. That’s not to mention Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews aren’t playing because of injuries.
That’s five less reasons to watch.
The All-Star Game, which will be played Sunday, has become dwarfed by the Winter Classic, which is now the league’s showcase regular-season event.
I do like the all-star fantasy draft, though, which was held for the second time Thursday night in Ottawa. It’s the league’s way of trying to spice up an otherwise dull weekend, and it works to a certain degree.
Boston’s Zdeno Chara and Ottawa hometown hero Daniel Alfredsson were the picking captains, assisted by Joffrey Lupul and Henrik Lundqvist, respectively.
I loved the exchange earlier in the week between Philadelphia’s Scott Hartnell and Lupul, who got a text from the Flyers’ winger asking if Chara would pick him.
“I don’t think he likes you,” was Lupul’s response.
Chara didn’t pick Hartnell, who ended up going 34th overall to Team Alfredsson.
Chara didn’t take any of the three Vancouver Canucks either, further fueling that rivalry.
The first pick in the draft was by Chara, who selected Pavel Datsyuk, a sign of how much the Red Wings’ center is respected around the league.
“I love the way he plays the game,” Chara said. “He’s magic on ice. I know how hard it is to play against him.”
Alfredsson’s first pick was teammate Erik Karlsson, who leads all defensemen in scoring. In fact, Alfredsson’s first two choices were teammates as he took Jason Spezza second.
Chara’s second pick was teammate Tim Thomas, the game’s top goalie who created a controversy when he skipped Monday’s visit to The White House honoring the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup win because of his political beliefs.
“I followed my conscience,” said Thomas, who later told reporters he would not be making any more comments this weekend about his decision.
Both Blackhawks all-stars will play for Team Chara in Sunday’s game.
Marian Hossa, Chara’s good buddy, was the seventh pick while Patrick Kane went 23rd overall.
“I got picked higher than Kaner. That’s a big win for me,” Hossa said.
Kane’s funniest moments came while he was waiting backstage to be drafted when his comments were picked up by a live microphone.
“That blonde is unbelievable,” Kane said at one point to Brian Campbell.
Playing to his image, right? He claimed he was misunderstood.
“There was a blonde kid in front,” Kane said, laughing. “That’s what I was talking about. I can’t believe they put that on.”
San Jose’s Logan Couture was the last player chosen, earning the free car that goes with the distinction. It came down to Couture and Dallas’ Jamie Benn as the last two standing.
“My phone is blowing up with people wanting to know what I’m going to do with this car,” Couture said.
Chara loaded up on offensive firepower, which was smart considering there is no defense in this game. He’s got Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin, Hossa, Kane, Corey Perry, Phil Kessel, Jarome Iginla and Marian Gaborik.
Looks like the winning side to me.
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