Photo Courtesy of Full.Body.Transplant.
A Reverse NHL All-Star Draft brought to you by the smartasses at DropGlovesNotBombs blog
By Lauren Belfoy and Fraser Matthews
The NHL threw us for a loop when they announced that this year’s NHL All-Star Game would be changed from the typical East vs. West format to a pick-up hockey game type of “drafting” system, where team captains would choose their teammates from a pool of selected players, schoolyard style.
Interesting, a real-life fantasy Draft with all the best players in the NHL.
I’ve seen plenty of mocks of this Friday’s All-Star “Fantasy” Draft. Professional hockey writers, bloggers and fans alike are getting off on imagining who captains Nicklas Lidstrom and Eric Staal will pick, and in what order. Will there be a teammate/old buddy/country-of-origin bias? Will they keep it fair? Or will it get interesting? Will the Sedins be split in two, like Carolina? Who will be picked first and last, and what does that say about the process? What will the strategy be? Despite a handful of All-Star Game pillars (big names) pulling out like a first date (good riddance, right?), the pool of talent is still deep with prestigious picks hitting the ice for Sunday’s game in Raleigh.
As a kid, my favorite kind of team selection was the backwards kind, meaning you got to sandbag (sabotage) the other team by picking their team for them. We would take turns picking all the players we’d rather not have on our team first (the fat, slow kid), strategically leaving the ones- the ringers, that we wanted for ourselves last. Gradually we would whittle down the misfits until we had to make the real tough decisions- the ones we didn’t want to play against. Cruel perhaps, but at least no one really had to carry the stigma of being “last”. Maybe I feel this way because as the scrawny, lazy kid that just wanted to stand around talk to friends instead of engage in any sort of competition, I liked being picked in the early rounds for once.
My partner at DropGlovesNotBombs blog, my male-counterpart, Fraser Matthews (a fan of the game, like myself) and I, being the out-of-the-box thinkers that we are, decided to go for a different take on the NHL All-Star Game Fantasy Draft. We took it straight back to childhood for a good old fashioned reverse-draft, struck up a little friendly rivalry and put our dichotomy on display. We each represented a 2011 All-Star Team, and through a grueling, day-killer of a process, took turns picking players for the other guy’s team; an un-draft if you will. We took in consideration everything that an All-Star Game team captain would keep in mind when choosing a team that would be both a contender and a crowd pleaser- only in reverse. It resulted in what is hopefully an educational, off the wall, but mostly entertaining dialog.
Because what is really more fun than picking your fantasy All-Star team out of a plethora of NHL talent?
Sandbagging the other “GM” from picking theirs.
With Team Lidstrom being represented by faux-GM Fraser Matthews and Team Staal being represented by myself (Lauren Belfoy), I give you the first ever DropGlovesNotBombs Un-Draft.
This is Carolina in my mind.
By decision of a coin-flip Team Lidstrom (Fraser) has first pick for Team Staal (Belfoy).
Team Lidstrom (Fraser Matthews)-
“With the first allocation, Team Lidstrom drafts Keith Yandle to Team Staal. He is the most recent addition to the All-Star Game roster, and is on pace for a career high in points, however he is an unknown around these parts and may not see much ice time”
Team Staal (Lauren Belfoy)-
“For our first round pick, Team Staal drafts Corey Perry to Team Lidstrom. The Anaheim Ducks winger is not exactly known as a fan favorite, and is commonly the answer to the old ‘player-you-like-to-play-against-the-least’ interview question. So I’m not really sure what’s worse, playing against Corey Perry or playing with Corey Perry.”
“Speaking of guys nobody wants to play with, the one-dimensional Phil Kessel goes to team Staal here in the second round. Partially thanks to Leafs management, the right-winger found his way into this year’s game, as there is really no way any Leafs player should be there in all honesty. Kessel is a -19 with only 15 assists. And nobody wants to play with a puck hog in the All Star Game.”
“In order to ensure Team Lidstrom has as little crowd support as possible, I pick left-winger Patrik Elias of the New Jersey Devils. Aside from a painful season (quite literally), the Devils have become a key rival of the Carolina Hurricanes the past several years, and have met four times in the playoffs since 2001. This ought to draw some boos from the crowd in Raleigh.”
“Rounding out the Starting Defensive corps for Team Staal will be Erik Karlsson, a 20-year-old coming into the game with a dismal -16. I take it he’s representing Ottawa based on the ‘everyone has to send someone’ rule.”
“Keeping with the anti-crowd-support theme, Team Lidstrom can look forward being jeered for Atlanta Thrashers defenseman Dustin Byfuglien's By-Fugly goal celebrations. Not to mention it's Big Buff's first All Star Game appearance, and since teammate Tobias Ennstrom dropped out of the ASG, there goes his Atlanta support. On the plus side, he can look forward to being reunited with former teammate Patrick Kane.”
“David Backes. Power Forwards have never really been integral in the All Star Game as taking the body is not part of the friendly competition vibe at the ASG. This significantly diminishes Backes’ game, but I suppose anyone would be happy to be a plug on an All Star team. Backes is yours.”
“Martin Havlat. Another last minute add to the ASG roster, the Wild right winger is a replacement for last minute All-Star scratch Evgeni Malkin, but just doesn't compare. Second best though is only the best for Team Lidstrom. Perhaps he can strike up a conversation with the Captain about getting knocked out by Red Wing Niklas Kronwall in the playoffs. All Star Grudge.”
“Your kid brother is 231st in points this year, yet he made it to the All-Star Game. Nothing more awkward than an anchor on your team, even more so when he's your own blood. Defenseman Marc Staal belongs to Team Eric Staal.”
“Starting in goal for Team Lidstrom will be Jonas Hiller. The Anaheim Ducks netminder is participating in his first All-Star Game in his four years playing in the NHL. While being an absolute rock for the Ducks, his popularity most likely doesn't extend all the way out to Carolina. Jonas who?”
“Starting in goal for Team Staal is a guy that knows how to have a good time. Never one to shy away from the nightlife in Montreal, Carey Price will surely find some fun in the land of NASCAR and Budweiser. Banking on the Habs ‘tender being properly hungover, there is no better type of goalie to be shooting on.”
“Also on D for Team Liddy will be Minnestota Wild blue liner Brent Burns. In his 7th year in the NHL, this will be Burns' first All-Star appearance. He is no doubt deserving (at least his beard is) despite a bloody altercation earlier this season for which he was suspended. In the All-Star game, the ruffians are all yours.”
“There is nothing like a good goaltending controversy, but there will be a lot of talk about who is the 'King of Quebec' between Carey Price and the 7th round pick for Team Staal, Marc-Andre Fleury. One was born there (Sorel) and one has the key to the city. We all think of MA Fleury as the mild mannered Beaver Cleaver that looks like the lead singer from Simple Plan, but he leads all goalies in PIM's. He is sure to undermine starter Price all the way until he gets yanked.”
“Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist goes to Team Lidstrom. I always say never trust a hockey player that looks like a male model. The puck bunnies are all yours.”
“We aren't here to make friends, we are here to win. The game may be at home for him, but they are only 13-8-2 there, nothing too spectacular. Cam Ward can spend his 20 minutes in net for teammate Eric Staal’s team; the crowd support won't last beyond that.”
“Looks like that leaves Team Lidstrom with Boston Bruins' Tim Thomas. Timmy is always an ASG go-to, and not just because of his stellar 23-5-6 record this season (which is reason enough to have him on the roster), but because he's the most entertaining guy to have mic'd up between the pipes.”
“Nashville and Carolina should be bigger rivals. They play only two times a year despite sharing a border. That said, I am counting on the home crowd not knowing what Shea Weber is all about. The guy has a cannon of a shot, but I am sure has never been heard across state lines.”
“Also manning the blue-line for Team Lidstrom will be Dan Boyle. One of a handful of All-Star selections over the age of 30, Boyle (and his team) have had a bit of an unhinged season thus far. Regardless, Danny seems like an All-Star Game mainstay. Still, I'm banking on the fans in Carolina to be relatively out of touch with this San Jose Shark.”
“He is a big body presence with a hell of a slap shot, and Big Z Zdeno Chara is sure to repeat as champion of the hardest shot competition. But when it comes to the actual game, the biggest pylon can join Team Staal.”
“In that case, Kris Letang is all yours. A smallish but incredibly capable D-man that is ideal in a regular season game or an HBO special won't do too much for the Carolina hockey crowd (‘Where's Sid?’). Maybe he and Lidstrom can compare their back-to-back Stanley Cup rings.”
“Another grinder to fill out the third line on Team Staal is Philly’s Claude Giroux, a dynamic forward who brings speed and toughness to the table. He should mesh well with Backes.”
“Your team sucks.”
“Your team sucks more.”
“Loui Eriksson belongs to Team Lidstrom. He's a hot scorer for the Dallas Stars, but is he hot enough for his first All-Star Game? Swedes of a feather should flock together.”
“Matt Duchene is another young gun of the under 25 persuasion making his first All-Star appearance in the big show. He should show some flashes of brilliance out there if he can get used to the steamy NASCAR air of Carolina after thriving in that Colorado altitude.”
“I regret having to keep him with teammate Patrick Kane, but no-teeth Duncan Keith belongs on a team with an already hefty defensive corps. You're welcome, Team Lidstrom. Team Staal can only hope that Duncan Keith is bored of All-Star appearances by now.”
“The artist formerly known as Daniel Briere. Reincarnated this year thanks to his setup man Ville Leino, 'Danny' Briere has been lighting the lamp and deservingly punched his ticket to this year’s All-Star Game following an injury.”
“I've heard a generous share of Brad Richards trade rumors this season. What a good chance for him to put his currently-hot offensive skills on display for the entire hockey world... on Team Lidstrom.
“Anze Kopitar is a top flight NHL player, but will the jet-lag get to him? Will he mesh with his All-Star teammates? There are a lot of shooters on Team Staal right now, not a lot of playmakers.”
“In the spirit of strategy, I'm going to take a leap of faith here and give up uber goal scorer Daniel Sedin to Team Lidstrom in the hopes of picking up playmaker Henrik. I may regret this later.”
“Chicago’s Patrick Sharp is joining Team Staal. The Manitoba native is on pace to post a career high in goals, and is one of several players making his first All-Star Game appearance this year, rightfully so.”
“While I don't mind splitting the Sedins, I just don't have the heart to separate Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum. Captain Serious (Jonathan Toews) belongs to you, P-Kane (and Team Lidstrom).”
“Rick Nash is headed to play with his Canadian Olympic linemate Eric Staal. The two have shared success in the past and should appropriately play together in this year’s All-Star Game.”
“I should have seen this coming, but damn. Looks like I have no choice but to give up the other Wonder Twin to Team Lidstrom. Henrik Sedin is yours, you twin-hoarder. It's okay, I didn't want the bread without the butter anyway.”
“I (painfully) give up to Team Staal the 9th leading scorer in the NHL, and perhaps the most popular player in the league, Alexander Ovechkin.”
“Team Staal will gladly take a crowd pleaser. That leaves Team Lidstrom with the final non-pick: current number-one scorer in the league, and really no less of a fan favorite, the electric-dynamo that is Steven Stamkos.”
Well, that concludes the first ever DGNB NHL All-Star Game Un-Draft. The rosters of each team (as chosen by the other team) look like this:
It's up to YOU to decide who has the better team, as we are still bantering over who would win the actual game... and the crowd.