Selanne and Lidstrom

Rob Blake: Selanne and Lidstrom have earned the right to skip All-Star Game


Monday we linked to a column in the Ottawa Citizen that suggested 41-year-old future Hall-of-Famers Teemu Selanne and Nicklas Lidstrom were breaching their duty to show up for the All-Star Game on Jan. 29 at Scotiabank Place.

Suffice to say the column wouldn’t have had the support of Rob Blake, the former NHL all-star, now working for the league, who’s intimately involved in the selection process.

“There’s only a few (players) each year that have earned that right and those two guys have definitely represented the league a number of times and been outstanding players,” Blake told the Canadian Press. “A lot goes into how they’re feeling for their run down the stretch. You obviously want them to be ready for their team especially — a guy like Nick Lidstrom is continuously in conference finals and Stanley Cup finals, the amount of games he plays. …

“Those two guys have earned more respect from their years of service in the league.”

Of course, the respect they’ve earned is the reason fans who buy tickets to the All-Star Game want to see them. So it’s a bit of a double-edged sword for guys like Lidstrom and Selanne. They’re so well-liked that they’re constantly being pulled in opposite directions. And since they can’t be in two places at the same time, they’re bound to upset somebody and end up feeling guilty.

Meanwhile, disliked people get to stay home alone, watching TV like kings.

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.