When it was announced last November that the NHL All-Star game was changing its format to have two "team captains" select their squads in schoolyard-esque fashion, many people likely thought of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin as the most suitable candidates. After all, who better to represent the league at its premier skills showcase than two of its best players and most marketable stars?
But just two months later, Crosby is out with a concussion and may have to miss the game, and Ovechkin has been achieving well below his usual level of offensive excellence thus far. With a player vote set to determine the identities of the captains, it's possible we could see another dynamic duo selected for the two leadership roles in Carolina.
The captains are being announced on Tuesday, the "draft" is set for January 28th and the game is taking place on the 30th. While it may indeed end up being Sid and Ovy that end up in charge, we want to know which two players (not named Crosby or Ovechkin) you would like to see heading up the opposing teams at the All-Star game. Post your suggestions below using our Your Call feature. You can be as practical or as creative as you want; bonus points will be awarded for a unique take on a pair with some kind of common theme or storyline. We'll get the ball rolling with a few possibilities:
Blackhawk Crown: Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews
The pitch: They won the Stanley Cup together six months ago. Put them on opposing teams, let them choose their rosters and see which Blackhawks' young gun comes out on top.
Staal vs. Staal: Eric and Marc Staal
The pitch: What could be more entertaining than a little sibling rivalry on the national stage? It would be a great venue for Eric and Marc to go head-to-head, and with teams they hand-picked themselves to boot.
Lightning Strikes Twice: Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos
The pitch: One of the biggest names in Lightning history faces off against the future face of the franchise. Will it end up being a metaphorical "passing of the torch" or will the veteran prove he's still got it?
Are You Experienced?: Nicklas Lidstrom and Jarome Iginla
The pitch: Elder statesman vs. elder statesman. Two of the oldest players in this year's All-Star game head up opposing teams and lead their men into battle. Which wily veteran will outsmart the other and mastermind the superior game plan while supported by a cast of high-calibre teammates?
Swede Dreams: Henrik and Daniel Sedin
The pitch: They've been inseparable since being drafted together by the Vancouver Canucks in 1999. Wrench them apart for 60 minutes and see which twin asserts his dominance over the other in their first game on opposite ends of the ice in who-knows-how-long.
Between the Pipes: Carey Price and Marc-Andre Fleury
The pitch: From their perch in the blue paint, NHL goalies - at least when the puck isn't in their end - have the distinct advantage of being able to step back and watch the game from a rather unique perspective. Let those who "see all" make their choices and try to put the best team in front of themselves as they try to avoid getting shelled by stacked offensive rosters. As a bonus common bond, both of these guys went very high in the NHL Entry Draft for goaltenders (Price went 5th overall in 2005, Fleury went 1st overall in 2003), so it would be fun to see them battle it out.
Now we turn it over to you. What pair of captains do you think it would be most entertaining to see choosing the teams ahead of the 58th NHL All-Star Game in Carolina? It's Your Call!