Ryan Kesler has been named an alternate captain for the 2011 All-Star Game in Raleigh, North Carolina, as have Mike Green of the Washington Capitals, Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks, and Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Kesler and Green will join Team Staal, with Kane and St. Louis joining Team Lidstrom.
It would be nice to say that Kesler received the recognition for his stellar season as he’s only two goals away from setting a career high, with 35 games left to play, but the fact that Mike Green and Patrick Kane were also named alternate captains despite having middling seasons. An argument could be made for name recognition, as Kesler and Kane were stars for Team USA in the Olympics and have adorned the covers of video games, but both Green and St. Louis were left off Team Canada and likely don’t spark much recognition from the casual sports fan that the All-Star Game targets.
Instead, I think it’s clear that he and the other alternates were picked not for their own star-power, but for the star-power of their teammates. Green and St. Louis are teammates with two of the biggest stars in the NHL and, with Sidney Crosby unlikely to play, the two players most likely to get picked first and second overall in the draft: Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos. By placing Green and St. Louis on opposite sides, a layer of intrigue is added to the first overall pick: will they lobby for their teammate or will they want to play against them?
Kesler and Kane are the third-leading scorers on their teams. This isn’t a coincidence. Ahead of Kesler are the Sedins and ahead of Kane are Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews. All four of those players are in the All-Star Game and are likely to be high picks. Daniel and Henrik are miles ahead of Sharp and Toews in scoring, so it will be interesting to see if Kane sets aside his animosity towards the Canucks to lobby for a Sedin ahead of his own teammates. Which of the Sedins will get picked first and will Ryan Kesler lobby for one ahead of the other? With this selection of alternate captains, these decisions just got a little bit more interesting.
, Martin St. Louis
, Mike Green
, Patrick Kane
, The NHL All-Star Game