by Forechecker on 01/23/09 at 10:29 PM ET
As the NHL’s best and brightest flock to Montreal to participate in the 2009 NHL All-Star festivities (at least the ones who aren’t faking injury to stay at home), most fans will look forward to events like the Hardest Shot competition, and of course the game itself on Sunday. One complaint often heard about the ASG, however, is the lack of grit and toughness that make hockey so enjoyable for the fans.
With that in mind, I thought I’d leverage the detailed penalty information that I keep track of to nominate the 2009 NHL “Bizarro” All-Star Teams, a collection of villains and miscreants that would make life hard on any opponent who dares take the ice against them…
Riley Cote, Philadelphia Flyers: as much as parts of the Canadian media may disapprove, the crowds love a good fight, and Cote’s 15 Fighting majors are tied for the NHL lead.
Dany Heatley, Ottawa Senators: a mean stick-handler, Heatley’s 7 stick-fouls (4 Slashing, 3 High-Sticking) have him among the league leaders.
Andrei Kostitsyn, Montreal Canadiens: no, this isn’t just a nod to the home fans. Andrei is tied for the NHL lead with 3 Boarding calls.
Adam Mair, Buffalo Sabres: His 3 Elbowing penalties are the most in the league right now.
Alexander Ovehckin, Washington Capitals: in this time of fiscal panic, Ovechkin’s propensity for Charging flies in the face today’s economic mood.
Stephen Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning: Watch those hands, kid! The 2008 #1 draft pick is tied for the most Holding the Stick calls (3).
Jay Bouwmeester, Florida Panthers: leads all NHL blueliners with 15 Hooking penalties.
Pavel Kubina, Toronto Maple Leafs: Nobody’s blowing by Kubina without taking a hard fall to the ice (NHL-most 8 Tripping calls).
Joni Pitkanen, Carolina Hurricanes: In contention for the NHL’s Cross-Checking championship this year.
Mark Streit, New York Islanders: Long Island must be making Streit grumpy, as he Boards opponents with abandon.
Anton Volchenkov, Ottawa Senators: Since the NHL likes to reach out to its fans, Volchenkov is a natural fit, as he’s tied for sending the most free pucks into the crowd (3 Delay of Game - Puck Over Glass calls).
Mike Smith, Tampa Bay Lightning: His celebrated dust-up with the Rangers’ Aaron Voros has already earned him “Bizarro Vezina” trophy consideration.
Jared Boll, Columbus Blue Jackets: Boll, who boasts 15 fights on his dance card so far, will be Cote’s dance partner.
Daniel Carcillo, Phoenix Coyotes: A multi-talented troublemaker, Carcillo leads the NHL with 5 Unsportsmanlike Conduct calls, and boasts 13 Fights and 3 Boarding penalties as well.
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks: the “Anaheim Slasher” is a master at eviscerating opponents with his stick, with an NHL-best 7 Slashing penalties, and a couple High-Stickings to boot.
Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks: When it comes to running the goalie, nobody is even close to Perry’s 7 Goaltender Interference calls.
Jarret Stoll, Los Angeles Kings: He’s just a hugger - tied atop the league with 6 Holding penalties.
Chris Pronger, Anaheim Ducks: Already well known for his elbows, the big vet is tied atop the Cross-Checking list with 4.
Stephan Robidas, Dallas Stars: 2nd in the NHL, tops in the West with 14 Hooking calls.
Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks: With 7 Interference calls, he’s clogging up the ice.
Shea Weber, Nashville Predators: Tied with Stoll for the most Holds.
Lubomir Visnovsky, Edmonton Oilers: The Best in the West with 7 Trips.
Greg Zanon, Nashville Predators: Tied with Volchenkov for giving out the most free pucks.
Marty Turco, Dallas Stars: Leads all Western Conference goalies with 8 PIM, a far cry behind Smith’s 23!
I know, these aren’t full rosters, but since very little of a game between these teams is likely to be played 5-on-5, they’ll get by.
As for your coaches? For the East, the obvious selection is Barry Melrose, whose legendary tenure behind the bench in Tampa may have set the high-water mark for ridiculous decision-making made by their new ownership group (we’ll hold off final judgment pending a possible Lecavalier trade). Leading the Western Conference will be Denis Savard, who was dispatched from his coaching duties in Chicago just four games into the season, but kept around the team to be an ambassador because, at least for this year, there are no bad feelings in the Windy City.
Now come on, you know a game between these two squads would be more entertaining than what we’ll see on Sunday!
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