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.
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5 comments

  1. Anonymous
    January 22, 2011

    I just don't understand how they chose the alternates.

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  2. vancitydan
    January 22, 2011

    I think it was input from all. The players had some input, Op. had some.

    I think PITB has got it correct with the intrigue angle.

    Kane already said "not Toews" when asked by the Hawks media.

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  3. The Belgian Canucks Fan
    January 22, 2011

    Well Kes already sanid "Hank", "center first" so… We'll see!

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  4. Qris Johnson
    January 23, 2011

    How the hell did this even happen?

    I mean, it's clear that these guys wouldn't be first picked in a draft. What input did Lidstrom and Staal have when it comes to who their A's would be given to?

    Did the league say, "Of this list of players, pick two?" Did the league just assign the players to their respective captains?

    I know the All Star Game isn't important, but dammit, fantasy drafts are important. It bothers me that in fantasy leagues you can't say, "These dudes would have amazing chemistry together" and draft them together for some sort of bonus. In other words, that your fantasy team will never hit the ice. Staal and Lidstrom get to live the fantasy DREAM!

    And that dream is apparently being compromised in some way.

    I know Pat Kane and Mike Green weren't picked for their leadership, so it's odd that they'd be given A's. I especially don't see Lidstrom picking Kane as an example of good leadership.

    This whole thing makes me very uncomfortable.

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  5. Harrison Mooney
    January 23, 2011

    Qris, I agree. Daniel called me a whiner for pointing this out earlier, but why is the NHL naming alternate captains anyway? I thought the whole point was that the captains get to pick their teams? Now it appears they don't–at least not entirely.

    If Daniel's right (and he is), and the NHL did it to inject some draft drama, it speaks to their lack of confidence in this whole idea. They can't let the drama unfold naturally? They have to shoehorn cheap storylines into it?

    Bah. I don't like this one bit.

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