Last night’s All-Star Fantasy Draft provided a lot of fun for the players and for those of us in the media looking to have some fun with such a new, quirky way. Asking the guys about strategy and about where they’d like to end up, getting the pre-draft and post-draft reactions provided some of their own entertainment.
A lot of attention was focused on team captain Nicklas Lidstrom. After all, having to lead the way in choosing sides, it’s all part of the job. Lidstrom said he went into last night’s fantasy draft with no real game plan to run with.
“No, no scouting at all for this game,” Lidstrom chuckled. “I know the players pretty well as it is so I didn’t need to do any scouting for them. Kenny (Holland) says ‘defense wins championships’ but I don’t think that will work for a game like this.”
Once the draft was over and Lidstrom’s squad was set up with a host of current and former Chicago Blackhawks alike in Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, Dustin Byfuglien and Martin Havlat, Lidstrom was happy to spill the beans why his team has a distinctive Chicago flavor.
“Kane had some part in picking those guys but I don’t mind it either. I faced those guys all the time so it’ll be nice to play with them instead.”
One guy who had a man-of-the-hour flair about him was Team Staal’s first overall pick Cam Ward. Going into the draft Ward was hopeful that he could end up being Staal’s first pick and after winning that recognition, he was more than happy and a bit surprised to get the nod.
“I was surprised. Staal’er wouldn’t lay down his cards and tell me what he’d do. He’s a good friend but I didn’t know if he’d want me to sweat it out down there either.”
Ward was also really excited about having his teammates Staal and Jeff Skinner all together on the team.
“We talked about how great it would be to have us all together on one team and how good it would be for the home fans and it’s nice that it worked out that way.”
One of the more amusing side dramas for the night came for New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal. Staal was passed on by his brother Eric on multiple rounds leading to an amusing quip during the draft from him saying how disappointed their mother would be in Eric for not picking him.
Making matters a bit worse for Marc is that his brother also chose his teammate Henrik Lundqvist ahead of him as well. So which one is worse, being made to sweat it out or being picked after his teammate?
“I think giving Henrik bragging rights was worse than waiting.”
So how does one deal with potential Swedish goaltender heckling? Marc’s got a good way to deal with it.
“I don’t know how much I’ll hear from him. I’ll just hit him with a slapper in practice if he does though.”
The key aspect from everyone here is that the players all had fun doing this. From seeing how relaxed the players are in dealing with the throngs of media here to just having fun with the whole thing it’s got to be a relief to be able to just let loose for a few days with your buddies from around the league. How much that fun stuff shown off on the ice when it comes time to show the pride in your team remains to be seen just yet, but so far for the NHL their mission to make the All-Star Game more interesting is working.