On Tuesday, hockey fans around the world learned that Detroit Red Wings' Nicklas Lidstrom and Carolina Hurricanes' Eric Staal had been chosen as captains for the upcoming NHL All-Star game.
Now the fun starts.
While both players will undoubtedly say their prime objective is to win the game, it will be extremely interesting to see how both men decide to choose their respective teams.
Under the new All-Star format, many questions arise. Should you choose a teammate with your NHL club first? Do you snag the hottest goalie and work your way out? Or perhaps you follow the tried-and-true method of picking the best player available first overall?
The situation becomes even more difficult for Staal as his loyalties will be severely tested. Younger brother Marc is scheduled to make his All-Star debut in Raleigh. While the younger Staal is unquestionably one of the best shutdown defenders in the game today, it is an All-Star game after all and it's rare that it turns into a defensive duel.
The 'Canes captain will face an even greater challenge when you take into account that with the contest occurring in North Carolina, he will undoubtedly feel pressured to choose his teammate Cam Ward early in the process to appease the locals. However with fellow netminders Tim Thomas, Marc-Andre Fleury, Carey Price, Henrik Lundqvist and Jonas Hiller all still on the board and all with better overall numbers, the choice of Ward could easily be questioned.
While Lidstrom has the advantage of being the only Red Wing named to the team, the future Hall of Famer will have some serious thinking to do if he decides to select a fellow Swede first overall.
There are no fewer than six players of Swedish descent for Lidstrom to choose from, however if the six-time Norris Trophy winner decides to make his inaugural decision based upon nationality, than he can likely narrow his first choice overall down to two players: Daniel and Henrik Sedin. The question that then presents itself is this: who goes first?
While the Sedin twins have always been seen as a package deal, for the first time in their adult careers, they may end up on separate teams. Should Lidstrom choose defending Hart Trophy winner Henrik first, what would be stopping Staal from choosing Daniel second? Would Lidstrom then have to negotiate a deal to keep the brothers together? Or would we get to see the sibling rivalry play out on the ice for the very first time?
If you thought Lidstrom would have problems choosing between his Tre Kronor running mates, take into consideration that nine of the All-Stars selected to participate joined Staal in celebrating an Olympic gold medal victory for Canada this past February in Vancouver.
Speaking of awards, Lidstrom and Staal have their choice amongst six different Art Ross recipients, three separate Hart Trophy winners, five Rocket Richard trophy awardees, four players who have earned the Conn Smythe trophy (Lidstrom not included) and three rookies of the year.
You could easily argue that the whole process could be avoided by simply choosing the best available talent, and without too much argument you could say that the best is Sidney Crosby. Unfortunately for Lidstrom and Staal, as well as the fans, 'Sid the Kid' may be forced to take a pass on the game due to lingering concussion issues, thus adding yet another degree of difficulty in making the decision.
So of course their attention would turn towards the next best available player, but once again, who would that be?
The aforementioned Henrik Sedin was chosen as the NHL's most outstanding player last season, however he currently trails Crosby as well as Tampa Bay Lightning snipers Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis and brother Daniel in the NHL points race.
So Stamkos is the obvious choice right? He tied Crosby for the NHL's goal-scoring lead last year and currently leads the Rocket Richard race this season. Well not so fast, as there's a certain two-time Hart Trophy recipient who plies his trade in Washington and who is a pretty skilled player in his own right. While Alex Ovechkin might not be enjoying the best season of his illustrious career, he is the type of player that flourishes in the All-Star environment and has the star power to get a crowd behind his team very quickly.
So where do your loyalties lie?
Our question for you in the latest edition of Netcrashing is the following: "Who would you choose with the first overall pick at the NHL All-Star game?"
Let your opinions be known in our 'Your Call' feature below.