RALEIGH, N.C. – Patrick Sharp must feel awfully lonely.
Sharp will face current and former teammates in the 2011 All-Star Game, on Sunday, after being drafted by Team Staal on Friday night.
“Kane had a chance to grab me and he didn’t,” Sharp joked afterwards. “I’ll make him pay on Sunday.”
It’s hard to know if the NHL’s new fantasy format will have lasting power but for a first time it proved to be an entertaining twist to an All-Star game, which, like most, had grown stale.
“It was fun,” Byfuglien said. “I thought I would get picked higher but it’s better than the ninth round of the NHL draft.”
Byfuglien has 16 goals and 25 assists for the Atlanta Thrashers, one year after helping the Hawks win the Stanley Cup. He played mostly forward then but moved back to defense and became an All-Star.
“It doesn’t surprise me one bit,” Keith said of Byfuglien’s year. “I’ve known him since he was 17. I remember games he played unbelievable on defense. He scored a hat trick in one period against Phoenix so obviously there was some potential there.”
Byfuglien wouldn’t mind reuniting with Kane and Toews at forward. The trio was a dominant line last postseason.
“Hopefully I can sneak up there,” Byfuglien said.
Kane, who had an eventful day of travel after missing his first flight to Raleigh then getting delayed several hours on his second flight, helped pick the team. Although there was a running joke between he and Toews about the draft process, in the end, Kane picked his buddy and current linemate.
“I didn’t want to take one before the other, Sharp or Toews,” Kane explained. “I figured once one of them got drafted I would take the other one right away. It looked like he [Toews] sweating from my point of view. I kind of felt bad for him.”
For captain and Detroit Red Wing Nicklas Lidstrom, playing with so many current and former Hawks will be a different experience.
“I’m ok with it. I’m ok with it,” Lidstrom laughed. “We’ll see how it plays out back home. It’s a fun weekend. I finally get a chance to play with them instead of facing them all the time.”
And then there is Marty Havlat who starred for the Hawks for three seasons, but left town the year they won the Stanley Cup.
“I played with those guys for three years and have some great memories with them,” Havlat said. “It’s going to be nice to be on the same side again.”
As for facing Joel Quenneville on the other side of the benches, Byfuglien summed up the feelings of his new team.
“You know he’s going to be serious and wanting to win but we can’t let him win again,” he said. “We won’t.”