Top names missing in NHL All-star game

Top names missing in NHL All-star game

OTTAWA - Reuters
More trade show than sporting showcase, the National Hockey League (NHL) All Star game in the current form is designed to be a fun-filled promotional vehicle for the league and the biggest names.

But there was a serious shortage of star power on the Scotiabank Place ice on Jan. 29.

Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby was sidelined with concussion-like symptoms and the NHL’s only other marketing kingpin, Washington Capitals sniper Alexander Ovechkin, discarded his All Star invitation after being hit with a three-game suspension.

The result was a free-wheeling contest that featured little defense, no penalties, no hitting but plenty of scoring as Team Chara outgunned Team Alfredsson 12-9.

New York Rangers winger Marian Gaborik fueled the win with a hat-trick in a four-point performance that earned him Most Valuable Player honours as the NHL brought the showcase back to its wintry roots after last year’s All-Star tailgating party in sunny Raleigh.

“For us to have this weekend at home was special,” said the Senators’ Jason Spezza. “The city, the way they have embraced it, everyone has gotten such a warm welcome. The fans are genuinely thrilled to have everyone around.”

For the second consecutive year, the All Star format honored a childhood hockey tradition played out on rinks around the world with the two captains, the Senators’ Daniel Alfredsson and the Boston Bruins’ Zdeno Chara, picking teams from a pool of All Stars. The format has proven popular but the game has still not found any of the pizzazz associated with NBA’s dunk-fest or MLB’s mid-season classic.

The NHL has previously tried Stanley Cup champions against All Star teams, East against West and later a North American team against the World All-Stars.