The question of who will captain this years All Star squads and direct the drafting of enough talent to push three or four teams over the salary cap is unanswered. Well, likely it is half unanswered. The possibility of Daniel Alfredsson not being the captain of one of the teams is so remote it’s more likely that Alex Burrows will win fights with Shawn Thornton and George Parros in back to back games. Logically speaking the NHL should select some other high prestige player to lead the other squad.
There are a few strategies the NHL could use for picking the other captain:
- Pick the player with the best name recognition.
- Pick the player who has the most vibrant personality.
- Pick the player from a rival team.
- Pick the player from a small market as an attempt to boost its market share.
- Pick a player from a big market to pander to that crowd.
The first likely means Alex Ovechkin is going to lead Team-Not-Alfedsson. Alternatively Jarome Igninla could be picked, but I don’t think they’d select captains from two Canadian cities, especially not when one of those teams rarely gets shown on national TV in the USA. Ovechkin makes sense as both the first and second possibilities logical conclusion, the only problem being he’s not particularly easy to understand for a lot of Americans.
Option two eliminates more players than it includes. As NHL36 is doomed to keep proving to us, hockey players are exciting to watch on the ice, but off the ice Ambien is in danger of losing market share in the sleep aid market. Off the top both Sedins are gone, Phil Kessel is gone even faster, and Captain Serious Jonathan Toews is laid by the wayside just as fast. Steve Stamkos and Brian Campbell make the cut simply for not freezing when a camera is aimed at them. Arguably Seguin makes the cut too as he’s largely stopped turning into one of Geppetto’s creations when he notices a camera. With the drama of the Taylor or Tyler draft year, and winning the cup in his rookie year he might also make the cut for the first three categories.
The Senators rivals can be considered all of the northeast division, the Red Wings, and the Ducks who they lost to in the 2007 finals. Pavel Datsyuk would serve the Red Wings well, and it might be a stepping stone to his captaining the Red Wings themselves when Lidstrom eventually retires. Who knows the NHL marketing department might have more than one player from to Detroit to talk about leading up to the next Winter Classic? Perry who was a part of the Ducks championship win over the Senators and has come across well in the post Olympic internal Ducks rivalry videos is unlikely to put anyone to sleep. Zdeno Chara as the captain of the reigning champions, a divisional rival, multiple time All Star and former Senator make sense for these reasons and more.
While Smashville’s partisans are fierce and loyal, not many people who live outside the Tennessee region get to see this team often enough. While Weber is the more obvious choice given the rising notice Suter is getting in part from his pending free agency it would present an interesting twist if he were to be picked as an All Star captain in his first appearance over his better known teammate. Dustin Byfugelin of the Jets is also on a small market team, and the extremely cynical could pick him for a multitude of reasons that have little to do with hockey or the fact that he comes across humbly, as a genuine guy with a sense of humor. Keith Yandle makes sense for number of reasons as well, he represent a team that could use a signal boost, he’s young enough he’s likely to be seen a half dozen more times at the All Star Weekend and more.
If cash is king (a shocking suggestion for the NHL All Star Game brought to you by Bell, Bridestone, Cisco, Now that’s positivenergy, Lays, Gatorade, Reebok, SiriusXM, Visa) New York City, Toronto, Los Angeles and Dallas are about as big a cities as you’ll find in the NHL. How much having a player from those cities will affect the viewership is a good question. It might add a few dozen households in Dallas or LA, but is unlikely to move numbers in the other cities. Jonathan Quick would be an interesting option as a goalie-captain, and Jamie Benn or whoever replaces him if he can’t make it would draw additional attention to a team on the rise again but going largely unnoticed. For big hockey markets, the Flyers Claude Giroux has growing name recognition. The well traveled Marion Gaborik has name recognition in a number of hockey markets as well as his current home town of Chicago and there are very few players anywhere more skilled.
Or you could just let the fans have their choice. Revolutionary as it would be to let the casual fans who the whole weekend is aimed at have a say, it might just make the most sense. Tim Thomas is the only player voted in from a team not playing in Ontario. He’s been to the All Star Game before, has name recognition as part of the Olympics, two time Vezina winner, Stanley Cup Champ, Visa commercial star, and Conn-Smyth Winner. Better still, his quiet quick with won’t overshadow Alfredsson in what could prove the Ottawa titans last visit to the All Star game. Dion Phaneuf, former Calgary Flame is from that other Ontario team, the largest city in Canada and is enjoying possibly the best season of his career. If the rumors are true that the Leafs will be squaring off with the Red Wings at the next Winter Classic it gives the Leafs a bridge to recognition for hockey fans outside the northeast.
To me however the most intriguing option for the weekend is going with the Other Swede. Erik Karlsson got the most votes of any All Star. He’s a rising star in the NHL as a whole and leads all defensemen in scoring. He’s a good skater who may introduce some defense to the All Star game by swiping a few pucks at center ice and dishing to his teammates. More, with Alfredsson having spent his whole career with the Senators it would provide a nice transition from one star to the next for the Canadian capital city team. For the rest of the continent and viewers around the world the drama of watching the two compete and seeing who drafts which teammates would add a little bit of spice to draft that would be hard to get in any other way.