NEW YORK, N.Y. – Martin Havlat of the Minnesota Wild and defenceman Keith Yandle of the Phoenix Coyotes are heading to the NHL all-star game as injury replacements.
Havlat and Yandle were invited to this weekend’s festivities in Raleigh, N.C., on Tuesday by the NHL. Havlat is taking the place of injured forward Ales Hemsky of the Edmonton Oilers. Yandle is filling in for Atlanta Thrashers defenceman Tobias Enstrom.
Yandle, who leads the Coyotes with 40 points, is a first-time all-star participant. He is sixth in scoring among NHL defencemen, two points behind leader and NHL all-star captain Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings.
Yandle’s teammates had pushed hard for him to make the team and were disappointed when he wasn’t initially picked.
“It was one of those things where, after they did pick the team, all my teammates came and said I was pretty deserving, I should have been there,” Yandle said. “Just to know what your teammates think of you, that’s pretty special to me and meant a lot coming from them.”
This will be the 29-year-old Havlat’s second all-star appearance. He went in 2007 while with the Chicago Blackhawks.
After a slow first season, Havlat has had a much stronger second season with Minnesota. He has 13 goals in 48 games and leads the team with 30 assists. He’ll join defenceman Brent Burns as Wild representatives this weekend.
This is the second time in the Wild’s 10-year history they’ll send two players to an all-star game. Filip Kuba and Dwayne Roloson each went in 2004.
The Pittsburgh Penguins lost another all-star on Tuesday when forward Evgeni Malkin pulled out of the game because of a sinus infection.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said “symptoms from the sinus infection and pressure in (Malkin’s) head are preventing him from going on the ice right now.”
Malkin also was scratched for the Penguins game against the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.
On Monday, the Penguins said captain Sidney Crosby would skip all-star weekend and focus on recovering from a concussion.
The NHL switched formats for this year’s all-star game, selecting two captains to choose up the sides. Lidstrom and Eric Staal will do the honours with help from two assistant captains.
“I’m sure it’ll be fun to see everybody drafted—I’m sure I’m going to be last picked. Alphabetical order, maybe,” Yandle said.