If you’re a fan that spent a lot of time voting for your favorite Penguins superstars to be starters in the All-Star Game it’s been a rough week for you.
Yesterday it was announced officially, after initial reports surfaced, that Sidney Crosby would be missing the game because of his concussion issues. Today, the Penguins broke news that Evgeni Malkin would also miss the game thanks to a sinus infection he’s been dealing with of late. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma broke the news this morning.
“Evgeni Malkin was not out on the ice today and will not be in the game tonight,” Bylsma said. “He will also not be going to the All-Star Game this coming week due to the sinus infection, illness – he has symptoms that prevent him from going on the ice at this time. We’ll continue to keep him off the ice.”
Malkin’s missed the last couple of games and will miss tonight’s game in Pittsburgh against the Islanders. Malkin joins Crosby, Ales Hemsky, Jarome Iginla, Tobias Enstrom, and Jordan Eberle as players that were supposed to take part in All-Star Weekend but will now miss out thanks to either injury or excused absence.
Of those players, we’ve seen Iginla have a replacement named for him in Philadelphia’s Daniel Briere. Minnesota’s Martin Havlat will also apparently be joining the festivities in Raleigh as an injury replacement according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie. As for everyone else, nothing has been announced as of yet but you’re looking at two forwards, one defenseman, and one rookie to fill vacancies. Names like John Tavares, Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, and Keith Yandle are making the rounds for discussion.
The Thrashers are hanging on to the eighth spot in the East right now by a thread and with the pile of injuries they’ve dealt with it’s no wonder the opinion on their play has cooled off quite a bit. Today they get a bit more bad news finding out that all-star defenseman Tobias Enstrom will miss the next 2-4 weeks with a broken finger.
Enstrom’s emergence as not just an offensive force but also as one that’s more responsible in the defensive end of the ice is a credit to coach Craig Ramsay. For all the success teammate Dustin Byfuglien has had as a defenseman this year, Enstrom is worthy of equal praise for improving his game. His presence will be sorely missed in the Thrashers lineup. Enstrom is tied for first on the Thrashers in scoring with Byfuglien with eight goals and 33 assists.
Enstrom’s injury also means that he’s out for the All-Star Game this weekend. Enstrom was selected for his first appearance as an all-star and with his absence, an opening is there to be had on the blue line for either Team Staal or Team Lidstrom. We’d suspect that if the NHL selects a replacement for him rather than choosing from amongst the rookie group, we’ll see Phoenix’s Keith Yandle get a call to join in the festivities in Raleigh. Yandle is the Coyotes leading scorer with seven goals and 33 assists, good for 40 points.
Turns out that Sidney Crosby and Jarome Iginla won’t be the only All-Stars missing out on the big event in Raleigh next weekend. Edmonton Oilers Ales Hemsky and Jordan Eberle will be missing out on the festivities for All-Star Weekend thanks to separate ailments. Hemsky will miss out on the All-Star Game thanks to the concussion he suffered recently while Eberle will not be participating in the Skills Competition as part of the rookie contingency there due to an ankle injury.
Hemsky’s selection to the All-Star Game was a much-debated choice given the seemingly better candidacies of a handful of other players. With Crosby reportedly out of the game and the potential solution of choosing from rookie participants at the Skills Competition two spots are up for grabs. The case can be made that those spots should be filled by veteran players like Martin Havlat, Joe Thornton, or John Tavares but the league might opt for a more dramatic way of filling out the rosters by choosing to fill those spots on the teams from the rookie group.
Of course, now that rookie group is one light thanks to Eberle missing out. Who takes his position there will be debated but a couple possibilities you might see there are Capitals defenseman John Carlson and Penguins forward Mark Letestu. Expect to get announcements on how the league opts to fill Hemsky’s and Crosby’s spots in the All-Star Game soon while a replacement for Eberle should come in short order.
A report out of Pittsburgh tonight says that Penguins captain Sidney Crosby will miss the All-Star Game thanks to suffering from a concussion. Crosby has missed the last eight games with a concussion and will be out of the Pens game against the Islanders on Tuesday. It makes perfect sense that Crosby would miss out on the NHL’s all-star shindig since his main responsibility is to the Penguins. Given that he’s on the shelf already and has been since the second week of January makes the case pretty strong that it’s all right to sit this one out.
This now opens the door for someone to be named to the All-Star Game and during CBC’s Hot Stove, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun said the idea of having one of the rookies named to the rookie squad for the Skills Competition get named to the All-Star Game is an idea that’s out there. The theory there being that guys like Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Ales Hemsky will have all the time they need the days leading up to the game to decide if they’re in or out knowing they’ll have reinforcements right there to choose from. It also means that some of those young guys will have to do something special to dazzle the other players and team captains during the Skills Competition to earn the call. With the old format of the game, players would have to decide early in the week if they’re going to play or not so the league could choose an injury replacement.
While the rookie selection idea has some merit to it and there’s some eligible stars to pick from there, including hometown guy and leading rookie scorer Jeff Skinner as well as Sharks rookie Logan Couture who’s the leading goal scorer amongst rookies. Of course, there are some guys who weren’t chosen for the game that would make great choices as well amongst NHL veterans. Guys like John Tavares of the Islanders, Joe Thornton of the Sharks, and Martin Havlat of Minnesota would be more than qualified as they’re top scorers on their teams.
How the league handles it will be interesting as either way provides either more intrigue at the team draft on Friday or turns the Skills Competition into a weird audition of sorts. After all, if guys like Malkin and Hemsky are drafted on teams on Friday night and then it comes out on Saturday that they’ll be replaced, all eyes turning to the rookies on Saturday with a potential announcement after the competition is completed could make Saturday’s events a must-see event, especially with team captains Eric Staal and Nick Lidstrom under the gun to pick Jeff Skinner at the hometown fans urging. I think we can see which way this might turn out.
Calgary’s Jarome Iginla will not be taking part in the All-Star festivities in Raleigh next week. Iginla has asked out of the game so he can see his ailing grandmother and the NHL was happy to grant his request. Taking his place on the team will be Philadelphia’s Daniel Briere.
Iginla spoke honestly about how family for him, this time around, is much more important to him than hockey.
“It is always an honor to be a part of the NHL All Star Game but unfortunately I have to decline this year,” said Iginla. “I just lost my grandfather in the spring and I have learned that my grandmother is not doing very well. With the way the season goes I don’t get too many opportunities to see her, and as much as I was looking forward to being in North Carolina for the All Star Game, I just know that my mind will be elsewhere.”
“My grandparents were second parents during my childhood and have been major influences on my life,” continued Iginla. “I have been blessed to have them. And so after talking it over with my family I thought it best that I use the break to spend some time with her while I am still able to do so. Thank you.”
Good on the NHL for giving Iginla permission to go.
Briere leads the Flyers in goals with 24 and given that the Flyers sole representative before this was Claude Giroux, you could say that the Eastern Conference’s best team could stand to use another player at the game.
Iginla is the only player representing Calgary at the mid-season exhibition and it’s likely there won’t be another Flames player able to participate in any part of the weekend now. Some fans may grumble about that but Iginla’s being named to the team alone is good enough to cover all the bases.
Let’s also give credit to the NHL for finding a sneaky way to make sure anyone who may have been snubbed initially finds a way into the game no matter what. Under the old format featuring the conferences, Iginla would have to be replaced with another Western Conference player. This way with players being picked regardless of what conference they’re in, anyone from that same position can get the call. In this case, the very much slighted Briere gets his chance to play in the game and stop crowing about how prior issues with the NHL kept him out.