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Eric Staal, Nicklas Lidstrom named 2011 NHL All-Star Game captains

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Anyone who pictured Team Sidney Crosby vs. Team Alex Ovechkin in a fantasy draft will have to wait at least one year, because various sources report that Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal and unparalleled Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom were named the captains for the 2011 NHL All-Star Game.

Team Staal and Team Lidstrom’s alternate captains (two forwards and one defenseman) will be named at some point in the future. Staal and Lidstrom will pick their teams on Friday, January 28th as part of the All-Star weekend festivities.

With Crosby dealing with concussion symptoms, it’s understandable that the player voters went in another direction with the team captains. If you want a quick explanation why Staal and Lidstrom will wear the “C” for each team, here’s a quick rundown.

Staal: Obviously, Staal is the team captain because he represents the Hurricanes, aka All-Star Game host team. It’s probably pretty reasonable to guess that Staal would have been one of the captains anyway. While the big, talented center isn’t in the discussion for the top two players in the NHL, he’s still a great player who won’t be out of place.

Lidstrom: With Staal being in there by default, it’s likely that Lidstrom is Crosby’s “replacement.”

Considering the fact that he’s 40 years old and still an odds-on favorite for the Norris Trophy, maybe it’s better this way anyway. Casual hockey fans need to know just how peerless Lidstrom has been during his hockey career, so maybe this will solidify that fact in their minds.

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It’s not exactly a natural rivalry, but Team Staal vs. Team Lidstrom should still be a lot of fun. Don’t be surprised if it ends up being a match between two Eastern and Western Conference-leaning teams, either.

Want to know which players Staal and Lidstrom get to choose from? You can find full rosters – plus some of the snubs – in this post. Naturally, injuries and other factors mean that the list is subject to change.

Report: Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season

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Joe Vitale will not play again this season.

The Arizona Coyotes have shut Vitale down for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign due to “concussion-related issues,” according to a report from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports on Wednesday.

Vitale, a 30-year-old veteran center, appeared in only one game for the Coyotes this season. That was back on Oct. 17, when he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone in a fight with Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.

Sens announce Frattin, acquired in Phaneuf deal, will stick with AHL Marlies

Matt Frattin
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Matt Frattin was traded by the Leafs to Ottawa yesterday as part of the Dion Phaneuf blockbuster.

But for now, he’s staying in Toronto.

On Wednesday, Sens GM Bryan Murray announced that Frattin will remain with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate — the Toronto Marlies — on loan, but will be available for selection should Ottawa require his services down the road.

Frattin, 28, has spent all of this season with the Marlies, scoring nine goals and 22 points in 47 games. His last NHL appearance came during the ’14-15 campaign, with the Leafs.

Prior to that, the former North Dakota standout had spent time in Los Angeles and Columbus.

 

Gaudreau, Monahan, Bouma express remorse after benching

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One day after getting benched for showing up late for practice — following an “epic” Super Bowl party, per Sportsnet — Calgary forwards Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Lance Bouma apologized for their actions.

“We want to apologize to the organization, the coaches, our team especially, and the city of Calgary and the fans,” Gaudreau said, per the team’s Twitter account. “For us not to show up like that, and miss a game like that, it’s not professional on our part.”

“I’m a young guy and I’m a leader on this team,” Monahan added. “I’ve got to step up and take that back and earn that respect again.”

More on what transpired at Tuesday’s practice, from Sportsnet’s Mark Spector:

Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley did his best to keep an epic Super Bowl party under wraps. But two of his players — Lance Bouma and Sean Monahan — arrived at the Saddledome at 10:15 am for a 10:30 Monday morning practice, and those two barely beat Johnny Gaudreau in the Saddledome doors.

Then practice started, and in the words of Calgary winger David Jones: “It’s a little embarrassing when we’re not (making) five-foot passes.”

“I think (Hartley) was pretty pissed off.”

The trio was then subsequently benched for last night’s game against Toronto, which the Flames won 4-3.

Afterward, Hartley downplayed the incident, saying “it’s not like they robbed a bank,” before adding “they’re great kids.”

WATCH LIVE: Rangers at Penguins on Rivalry Night

New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Three
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Tonight, the New York Rangers are in Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins at Consol, in a rematch of the ’14 and ’15 playoffs (the Blueshirts eliminated the Pens from each of the last two postseasons, you’ll recall.)

You can catch the game at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, or watch live online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Some relevant linkage for tonight’s tilt:

NHL on NBCSN: Rangers, Penguins renew acquaintances on Rivalry Night

Rangers ‘are doing a lot of good things’

‘I wonder if that’s Crosby, what happens?’ — AV upset after McDonagh concussed by Simmonds

Malkin (lower body) to miss rest of week

Crosby, Karlsson and Trocheck are NHL’s three stars of the week