Lidstrom, Staal named All-Star Game captains

Forget East vs. West or North America vs the World. Instead, this year’s NHL All-Star Game will be Team Lidstrom vs Team Staal.

Veteran defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and superstar forward Eric Staal were named team captains for this year’s annual All-Star Game which will take place on Jan. 30 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

As team captains, Lidstrom and Staal will be responsible for hand picking their own teams in a fantasy hockey-style draft format. Both captains will also select the lineup for their team in the All-Star Skills Challenge event. Team captains were selected through a vote by the pool of All-Star players attending this year’s event.

While there was heavy speculation as to who would captain the two teams at the game this year, Staal received a lot of fan fare since the game will be held at the home arena of the Carolina Hurricane, a team that Staal has spent his entire NHL career with.

“I think that was probably a part of it, of me being a captain here,” Staal said. “It’s in our building in front of our fans so i think it adds a little bit more to the game and it will be exciting for our building to enjoy that and cheer for the home team, for the good guys.”

Staal, however, said he feels no pressure whatsoever to select his brother, New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, in the All-Star draft. Marc will be appearing in his first NHL All Star Game this season.

Lidstrom, who also captains the Detroit Red Wings, appears to be an obvious choice. At 40-years-old, Lidstrom is still at the top of his game and leads all defenseman in points with 42 on the season and still averages almost 24 minutes of ice time a night. Lidstrom will be appearing in his 12th NHL All Star Game.

“I had a chance to talk to (Detroit GM) Ken Holland this morning, try to get some pointers from him. He’s a good guy to ask questions,” Lidstrom said about his draft strategy. “I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the players. They’re all great players, their all All-Stars.”

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was thought to be a shoe-in to captain one of the teams this year, but a concussion has sidelined the league’s leading point scorer and may force him to miss the All Star game altogether. Crosby amassed the most fan votes this year with 635,509 total votes. Penguins defenseman Kris Letang had the second-most total votes with 477,960.

If Crosby misses this year’s game, it will be the third time that he has missed an All-Star game due to injury.

The All-Star fantasy draft will be televised on Friday, Jan. 28. Lidstrom and Staal, joined by their alternate captains who will be named later, will choose from a pool of the remaining 36 All Star players over the course of an 18 round draft. Each team will consist of three goalies, six defensemen and 12 forwards total. To ensure that the final draft picks are true selections and not simply predetermined due to position requirements, each team’s three goalies must be picked by the end of Round 10 and each team’s six defensemen must be picked by the conclusion of Round 15.

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