by PuckStopsHere on 01/23/09 at 02:48 AM ET
So far, there have been only two players who were chosen to the NHL All Star Game who have decided not to play. Pavel Datsyuk suffered a hip pointer in his Tuesday night game against Phoenix and teammate Nicklas Lidstrom is sitting out due to a longstanding elbow injury he has been fighting. Their spots in the All Star Game will be taken by Patrick Marleau of San Jose and Stephane Robidas of Dallas. If this turns out to be all of the injury replacements in the All Star Game, this will be a low number compared to recent years. The entire East Conference team as originally chosen is planning to play in the game. There are reports that Pittsburgh would like Sidney Crosby to skip the game but this has not been officially decided. It is also possible that an All Star may suffer an injury of some sort in the final day of play before All Star break, which is currently concluding.
NOTE: It is confirmed Sidney Crosby will also miss the game. Martin St Louis will fill his spot.
This leaves an All Star Game with no Detroit Red Wings. I think it is a mistake to do that. The NHL takes pains to select a roster that includes players from every NHL team (forgoing selection of several valuable players) and then when injuries strike forgets that restriction. Usually, it would be a weak team with only one representative who is omitted from the game. The fact that it is Detroit is a little bit surprising as they have multiple selections, although the fact they were limited to two selections is a consequence of the West Conference starting lineup containing players from only two teams, thus leaving only two roster spots free when all teams are selected.
The choice of Patrick Marleau as an All Star is a good one. He is clearly having an All Star season. The choice of Stephane Robidas is questionable. He is clearly not the best available defenceman - that might be Brian Rafalski or Duncan Keith or Marc-Edouard Vlasic. He does have ties to Montreal, having played his first couple NHL seasons there. Perhaps that explains his addition to the roster.
As for my All Star teams there are three players who clearly need replacement. They are Pavel Datsyuk, who is missing the NHL game as well, Steve Mason, who will be missing the Young Stars Game and Paul Stastny who is on the injured reserve in the NHL. I will assume that all the rest of my choices are willing to play, since there is no obvious injury case. This may be a poor assumption since (for example) Brian Rafalski is on the team and he refused a spot in last year’s game when he was relatively healthy, but it is the most uniform way to gage player availability that I have.
Unlike the NHL, I will keep one player per team in the All Star Game. That means I have three spots to fill with a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets, a member of the Colorado Avalanche and free member from any West Conference team since Datsyuk is not the only Detroit representative on my team. I will use the goalie spot for the free team. This is because Columbus offers no help as their best choice Wade Dubielewicz has not played an NHL game yet this season. Colorado’s goaltending tandem of Peter Budaj and Andrew Raycroft are hardly having All Star seasons either. Therefore, my goaltender will be Nikolai Khabibulin of the Chicago Blackhawks. He has played better this season than any of the remaining choices for a West Conference goalie. That gives me two forward spots to fill. One must be from Columbus and the other from Colorado. The Columbus player will be Rick Nash and the Colorado player Ryan Smyth. Both are top scorers on their respective teams.
Should I need to make any further injury replacements I will update this post.
UPDATE: Sidney Crosby will miss the All Star Game as well. His spot will be filled by Martin St Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Since Evgeni Malkin is also in the game, there is a Pittsburgh representative. Thus all East Conference teams have a player in the game. Only Detroit is missing. I do not see St Louis as the best candidate to replace Crosby. On my hypothetrical team, I will give the roster spot to Patrik Elias.
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