Jan 232011
 

[Every weekend, Canucks Hockey Blog goes out of town as Tom Wakefield (@tomwakefield88) posts his thoughts on what's happening around the NHL.]

NHL All-Star Game

Photo credit: Puck Daddy

It really is a crapshoot which has undergone more cosmetic change – Heidi Montag’s body or the NHL All-Star Game.

Next Friday, the NHL will again try to create interest for this event by broadcasting a live player draft to determine each team’s roster.

Interestingly, looking back through the years on Hockey-Reference.com, the average NHL All-Star Game has featured roughly 17 Hall of Famers*. By decade:

40s: 18 Hall of Famers per All-Star game
50s: 17 Hall of Famers per game
60s: 19 Hall of Famers per game
70s: 15 Hall of Famers per game
80s: 16 Hall of Famers per game
90s: 20 Hall of Famers per game
2000s**: 13 Hall of Famers per game

Keeping these numbers in mind, who are the Hall of Famers that are playing in the upcoming 58th NHL All-Star Game?

An educated guess suggests:

Jarome Iginla – he’ll end up with well more than 500 goals, and has been a First Team NHL All-Star three times.

Nik Lidstrom – a top-three defenceman in the league’s history, and the best Swedish player of all-time.

Sidney Crosby – youngest NHL captain to win the Stanley Cup will probably be the highest scoring player of his era.

Evgeni Malkin – might not score the points he would as a first-line centre on another team, but he’s well positioned to have a Messier-in-Edmonton type run behind Crosby. That’s pretty good.

Steven Stamkos – yea it’s early, but he’s got that shot, and looks like a permanent Maurice Richard scoring threat.

Alex Ovechkin – history will show whether this is the season he sacrificed personal success for team glory, or whether it was the beginning of slight decline after a dominant early start to his career.

Eric Staal – seems like a stretch for now, except he’s already won a Cup and, barring injury, might play 1400 NHL games before he’s done. If he does the points will be there to help his consideration.

Zdeno Chara – borderline, but he’s a four-time post-season All-Star and a Norris Trophy winner.

Henrik Lundqvist – Goalies are tough to predict, but quietly 400+ career wins seems within reach, and his goals-against average and career save percentage are as good, if not better, than Roberto Luongo’s.

That’s nine Hall-of-Famers. No NHL All-Star Game has had less than 10 (2007, 2009).

Which means there are probably a few more Hall-of-Famers playing January 30th than anyone currently realizes.

* = Numbers have been rounded, and guesses have been applied to recent NHL All-Star Games that feature players that are either still active or yet-to-be-inducted in the Hall of Fame.

** = Recent players considered Hall of Famers for the purposes of research: The aforementioned nine, along with Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk, Joe Thornton, Mike Modano, Teemu Selanne, Mark Recchi, Martin Brodeur, Chris Pronger, Chris Chelios, Jeremy Roenick, Mats Sundin, Scott Niedermayre, Igor Larionov, Mike Richter, Ed Belfour, Joe Niewendyk, Joe Sakic, Jaromir Jagr, Brendan Shanahan, Dominik Hasek.

THOUGHTS ON THE FLY

  • According to research, the greatest collection of hockey players for an NHL All-Star Game was 1996 (24 Hall of Famers): Ray Bourque, Martin Brodeur, Ron Francis, Dominik Hasek, Jaromir Jagr, Brian Leetch, Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier, Cam Neely, Brendan Shanahan, Scott Stevens, Mats Sundin, Teemu Selanne, Denis Savard, Joe Sakic, Al MacInnis, Nik Lidstrom, Brett Hull, Wayne Gretzky, Mike Gartner, Sergei Fedorov, Paul Coffey, Chris Chelios, Ed Belfour.
  • The NHL can try and ban hits-to-the-head however they’d like, but change will only happen when a generation of players have been raised playing with new rules and the bullying culture of hockey is marginalized even more than it is now.
  • Really wish someone would suggest that, while players are bigger, stronger and faster than ever before, they’re also wearing suits of armour under their jerseys. Elbow pads and shoulder pads have never been harder.
  • There’s lots of cynicism and laughter about Peter Forsberg’s last ditch effort to play in the NHL. The fact remains that Forsberg’s hockey IQ and experience could be a huge benefit to the Avalanche. His injury issues over the last decade have almost been entirely related to a unique foot injury that made it impossible for him to skate comfortably.
  • Is Terry Murray in danger? With only two wins in their past 10 games, the Los Angeles Kings’ season is slowly slipping away.
  • If Evgeni Nabokov does end up in Detroit, what happens to Chris Osgood when he returns from his groin injury? It seems like his playing days may be over. (Editor’s note: Nabokov was, of course, claimed off waivers by the Islanders yesterday, but apparently won’t report to them.)
  • The talk was that Jacques Lemaire stepped aside from coaching the New Jersey Devils after last season because he was burnt out and tired of the NHL grind. But with each successive game, it’s becoming clear he is still one of the best coaching minds in the game. It makes you wonder where New Jersey would have been if he’d coached the team all year.
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