The NHL revealed the remaining players who will make the trip to the NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 30 in Raleigh (scroll down for list of today's additions). Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun debate the additions and omissions:
Burnside: Well, Pierre, the day we've all been waiting for has arrived: today's announcement of the additional players who will fill out the All-Star Game rosters for the big game at the end of the month.
Now, you and I both know the game is what it is: a corporate schmoozefest that has no meaning and signifies almost nothing. That said, there will be no end of debate about the players ignored/chosen by the NHL's hockey operations department. Clearly, I had more of a hockey ops frame of mind when we drafted our two All-Star squads last week, which explains why I will have 14 skaters on the ice (not counting goaltenders) when the game begins.
I understood the selection process is deeply flawed with each team needing some sort of presence in Raleigh, even though it means deserving players like Henrik Zetterberg aren't invited and there is only one player from the East's best team, Philadelphia, in attendance. By the way, who would that be?
LeBrun: Zzzzzzzz ... sorry, what was that, Scotty? I saw you mention All-Star Game and I felt asleep at my keyboard. Sorry, let me shake the cobwebs and focus.
Ah, yes ... much debate in cyberspace today about the All-Star selections from the NHL's hockey operations department. Clearly, the debate isn't over how much people actually care about the game itself, but rather have pride in their respective NHL teams and want to be properly represented. That's natural. But fans should also be wary of hammering the league for snubbing certain stars; in some cases, those players have let it be known through their GMs that they'd rather take the All-Star weekend off to nurse minor injuries or just regroup. My guess is that's what happened with Zetterberg, for example.
Burnside: The event is fraught with danger, as you know. Two years ago, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman essentially suspended Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk for blowing off the event after they cited mysterious injuries. I thought the commissioner was right on. If you want the event to have even a modicum of integrity, you can't have players simply bowing out. That's why the league turned to Brendan Shanahan to try to come up with a fun way of keeping players' interest (i.e., the drafting system that will unfold on the Friday night of All-Star weekend).
Hockey ops is in a no-win situation given what I think is a specious argument that all teams need to be represented. With all due respect to Patrik Elias (nine goals and on pace for 60 points), no New Jersey Devil deserves to be in Raleigh, but that's life. Elias is a venerable Devil; what else were they going to do, send Ilya Kovalchuk?
LeBrun: First of all, no one is ever "right on" for suspending Lidstrom. That's total B.S., but let's carry on. I was told today the league did not worry about trying to represent all 30 teams, which is why four teams don't have All-Stars (Panthers, Isles, Sabres and Coyotes). I am happy, however, to see Claude Giroux of Hearst, Ontario, make it. Who knew two kids from Hearst would ever attend the same All-Star Game one day, eh? Meanwhile, to see just one Sharks player make the All-Star group (Dan Boyle) says it all about the disappointing first half in San Jose.
Burnside: Well, we'll have to agree to disagree over the All-Star suspension. As for ensuring teams are represented at least marginally, it is patently clear that's exactly what hockey ops was doing. Did you look at the players taking part in the rookie event? No John Tavares or any other Islander (fair enough), but Michael Grabner gets a nod? He is 19th in rookie scoring and minus-4. No Florida Panther in the regular game, but Evgeni Dadonov is invited to the rookie fest and he's tied for 22nd among first-year players.
And can you explain Elias' presence? No. There is no explanation other than appeasing teams, so don't try to sell me a swampland and tell me it's a resort, my friend. Big question is whether the game's top player will miss his second straight All-Star Game due to injury. Sidney Crosby didn't play in Montreal, but avoided sanction from the league by attending the All-Star festivities. What's your guess?
LeBrun: My guess is Sidney will be back before then. Now before we go, let's clean up that little All-Star draft you and I had last week. I'm going to replace my players that weren't taken today, since that's not my fault. See you later Nicklas Backstrom, Joe Thornton, Drew Doughty, Keith Yandle, Lubomir Visnovsky and Jonathan Quick, and welcome Ales Hemsky, Patrik Elias, Mike Green, Marc Staal, Zdeno Chara and Henrik Lundqvist to the LeBrun All-Stars. Perfect. See you in Raleigh!
Here are the remaining 36 players and 12 rookies added to the All-Star roster today by NHL hockey ops. They will join the fan-voted top six -- Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Marc-Andre Fleury, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith -- in Raleigh:
Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks
Brad Richards, Dallas Stars
Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning
Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
Tobias Enstrom, Atlanta Thrashers
Mike Green, Washington Capitals
Jonas Hiller, Anaheim Ducks
Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins
Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes
Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
Cam Fowler, Anaheim Ducks
Tyler Seguin, Boston Bruins
Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes
Kevin Shattenkirk, Colorado Avalanche
Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers
Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers
Derek Stepan, New York Rangers
Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks