Only 23 years old and he’s already got a Stanley Cup, two Messier Leadership Awards, a Rocket Richard trophy, an Art Ross, a Lester Pearson, a Hart Memorial and has been an All-Star since the first one in 2007. Not to mention, he was the youngest player in NHL history to record 100 points in a season and has had the prestige of two Lou Marsh trophies in his career.
Don’t get me wrong; I am anything but a die-hard Crosby fan. To me, he’ll always be the whiney, overpublicized player, who likes to take dives every now and then. But I give credit where credit is due. Face it hockey fans, Sidney Crosby is Superman on ice.
But looks like this year, Superman’s out of the game with a nasty concussion. The 2011 NHL All-Star Game will proceed with captains Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes and Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings.
So with NHL’s superstar out of the game, who will shine through?
By Harrini Krishnan
This year, as we all know, the league decided to let the players draft their own teams. It’s like a live fantasy draft with Staal and Lidstrom as captains, and who better?
Eric Staal, in his seventh season, who also happens to be the captain of the host team—the Hurricanes, is a three-time All-Star pick and a member of the 2006 Stanley Cup team. And in addition to earning MVP honors at the ’08 All-Star game, he holds the Hurricanes’ franchise record for most hat tricks in a season (‘08-‘09), and most career post-season points.
And of course the Nicklas Lidstrom, who is one of, if not the best defensemen in the league. He has won the prestigious Norris trophy three consecutive seasons from the ’00-’01 season to the ’02-03, and then again from ’05-’06 to ’07-’08. In thirteen seasons, the six-time Norris trophy winner has never finished lower than 6th in voting. On top of that, he has four Stanley Cups under his belt and is one of the highest paid players in the league, hitting a cap of a little over 6 million dollars.
I don’t believe any of the 42 players on that All-Star roster had a doubt in their mind that these men would be worthy of calling themselves captain.
“This guy is the man,” Kris Letang, of the Pittsburgh Penguins, said of Lidstrom. “Totally another class.”
“Lidstrom was a no-brainer,” NHLPA divisional player representative Steve Webb said. “The first couple guys I was calling right out of the gate were saying Staal. I think they recognized with Sidney — his name was always in there — but they always added Staal with Sid maybe not being able to appear.”
Two days before the game, Staal and Lidstrom will select their teams in a live 18 round draft, based on a coin flip. Each team will have three goalies, six defenseman and twelve forwards.
With a talent packed 42-man roster, whose time is it to shine? Who will each player choose?
Will Eric pick his younger brother Marc, defenseman for the NY Rangers? Marc is a first-time All-Star pick but has had one of the best seasons of his career. With 6 goals, 11 assists and a plus-9 rating in 43 games, he has blown away his career highs in almost every category. After trading Michal Rozsival to the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday and demoting Wade Redden to the AHL, Staal is now the Rangers’ no.1 defenseman.
“He’s growing as a player,” Tortorella said. “Not just defensively which is his strength, but offensively and leadership. We’re fortunate enough to see him every day. As we’ve gone along here and he’s played against some pretty good forwards on opposing teams, I think the League has recognized that now.”
“I don’t think I could handle being on his team.” Marc joked around with reporters, on the topic of playing with his older brother, “He’s too mouthy.”
When asked, Eric laughed and told reporters that he’d been getting quite a bit of pressure from his brother despite his clowning around.
“He told me about it. I thought it was a poor quote anyway, but that’s him for you,” Eric said. “I don’t know what he was trying to say. It’ll be fun just to enjoy the whole weekend together.”
I guess all we can do is wait and see. I don’t know about you, but I’m almost more excited for the draft than the game itself.
“If I’m not picked last, then I think it’s a great format.” Flyers’ Claude Giroux laughed nervously, echoing the thoughts running through the backs of the other 38 players’ minds. So who will be picked last?