January 13, 2011
THE HOCKEY NEWS, Toronto – The National Hockey League announced its Eastern Conference reserves today for the 59th annual NHL All-Star Game to be played in Las Vegas on Jan. 25. â€¨
After overzealous New York Islanders’ fans voted John Tavares, Josh Bailey, Kyle Okposo, Mark Streit, Chris Campoli and Rick DiPietro (currently sidelined with a lower body injury) to the starting lineup, the league had a challenge in filling out the Eastern Conference roster as the NHL requires every team be represented by at least one player in the game.â€¨
With the league’s expansion to 32 teams this season and the move of the Detroit Red Wings to the Eastern Conference, there was room to name exactly one player from each remaining team to the squad.â€¨
“We are extremely proud of the achievements of our players, who are the best athletes in the world,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. “The players chosen to play in the All-Star Game are the best of the best and will put on a great show for our fans, who are the greatest fans in the world. Sure, the NHL’s leading scorer won’t be in the game and neither will the top goal-scorer or the leading defenseman scorer or the goalie with the most wins, lowest goals-against average and highest save percentage, but Sidney Crosby will be there!”â€¨
Bettman was referring to the fact points leader Evgeni Malkin, goal-scoring leader Jeff Carter, top defenseman scorer Mike Green and the leader in virtually every goaltending category, Henrik Lundqvist, were not picked for to the team.â€¨
On the Penguins, Malkin was bypassed in favor of Crosby, Mike Richards will be representing the Flyers and perennial all-star Alex Ovechkin will play in the game as the Capitals representative, despite the fact he missed the first 38 games of the season with an upper and/or lower body injury.â€¨ â€¨
Instead of Lundqvist, the Rangers will be represented by Jaromir Jagr, whose triumphant return to Broadway has been one of the biggest stories of the 2010-11 season. Rounding out the roster are defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom, Zdeno Chara, Tobias Enstrom and Luke Schenn; forwards Daniel Alfredsson, Stephen Weiss, Martin St-Louis, Eric Staal and Andrei Kostitsyn; and goaltenders Martin Brodeur and Ryan Miller.â€¨
As a result of the selections, the Eastern Conference’s eight leading goal-scorers – Malkin, Carter, Tomas Vanek, Marian Hossa, Zach Parise, Phil Kessel, Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk will not be in the game.
Western Conference reserves will be announced tomorrow and with all six starters coming from the expansion Kansas City Blades, there will only be one player chosen from each of the remaining 15 teams.
THE NUMBERS GAME
Some statistical items as we enter the second half of the 2008-09 season:â€¨
• Only four players who averaged fewer than .40 points per game last season (minimum 40 GP) are above .75 points per game this season (minimum 30 GP): Atlanta’s Bryan Little, San Jose’s Devin Setoguchi, Toronto’s Matt Stajan and the New York Islanders’ Doug Weight.
• The only player to score fewer than five goals last season (minimum 40 GP) and have more than 10 this season is Calgary’s David Moss, who had 13 in his first 41 games.
• Wondering which defensemen are playing a greater role this season compared to last? Philadelphia’s Matt Carle, Montreal’s Josh Gorges and Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik are the only NHL defensemen who played fewer than 17 minutes per game last season (minimum 40 GP) and more than 20 minutes per game this season.
• Among forwards, New York Ranger Ryan Callahan and Florida’s Gregory Campbell are the only players who averaged less than 13 minutes per game last season, but are above 16 minutes per game in 2008-09. Minnesota’s Antti Miettinen is the only forward above 17 minutes per game this season who was below 14 minutes per game in 2007-08. The greatest jump among forwards may go to Dallas’ Loui Eriksson who is playing nearly 20 minutes per game after playing just slightly more than 14 minutes per game last season.
The pace of contract extension signings is much slower than it was at this time last season.
Since Nov. 1, the only NHL players to sign extensions are Pittsburgh’s Maxim Talbot and Jordan Staal and Colorado’s Paul Stastny.
Last season from Nov. 1 through to and including Jan. 12, 2008, there were 10 players who signed extensions, including Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, Philadelphia’s Mike Richards, Ottawa’s Jason Spezza and Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf.
Rand Simon is an NHLPA certified agent. He has spent the past 15 years with Newport Sports Management Inc. You can read his other THN.com Insider Blogs HERE.