NHL

Lidstrom and Staal on the clock for All-Star Draft on TSN

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TSN.ca Staff
1/28/2011 5:34:25 PM
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There are a number of ways that All-Star captains Nicklas Lidstrom and Eric Staal can approach their roster selections tonight and no matter which one they choose, it's safe to say it will be tough to keep everybody happy.

Watch it all unfold on the NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft, live on TSN at 7:30pm et/4:30pm pt.

There are arguably two main (and possibly counter-intuitive) challenges facing Staal and Lidstrom ahead of the big game in Carolina.

One is to simply pick the best team possible.

The other is to make diplomatic choices and not burn any bridges.

When it comes to selecting their players, they essentially have to decide if they want to go with the best, go with the brothers, go with the "biz" or go with the blood of their countrymen. Naturally, it will all be in good fun at the end of the day, but what is the best strategy for picking a team? It depends on who you ask.

TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie says he would take the route of tact and diplomacy over pure skill.

"If I'm Eric Staal, the captain of Team Staal, I'm taking care of my family," says McKenzie. "Now family in an All-Star Game is defined in a lot of different ways. But if you're Staal, the first family you have to look out for is the Carolina Hurricanes family. You don't want the Hurricanes fans who are in the stands having split loyalties, so you want to make sure you get (Cam) Ward and (Jeff) Skinner on your team by hook or by crook."

Next on the list of priorities is taking care of the "other" kinds of family, McKenzie adds.

"When you're finished taking care of (the Hurricanes) family, you've got to flip a coin and see which other family is more important. Is it your Thunder Bay family and you take Patrick Sharp, or is it your actual family and you've got to keep mum and dad, Linda and Henry, happy and take brother Marc?" says McKenzie. "But those are my targets if I'm Staal. All-Star, Schmall-Star, I take care of family."

The alternative approach is that the players should put aside all the personal or sentimental connections and just go straight for the best players, an approach that TSN hockey analyst Pierre McGuire likes.

"If I'm Lidstrom, I'm going after skill," said McGuire. "I want Steven Stamkos on my team, I want Shea Weber to anchor my defence. I want both Sedins on my team. I don't just want one, I want to get greedy, I want both. I want all the skill. I'll take Alex Ovechkin and the hottest scorer in the last three NHL All-Star Games in Rick Nash. I'll take him too. Forget family, I want to win!"

Lidstrom, who will be appearing in his 12th All-Star Game, could manage to simultaneously go for the tactful and skillful routes and opt to pick one of his fellow Swedes in Henrik or Daniel Sedin.

That also creates the possibility that the Sedin twins could end up playing at opposite ends of the ice, which would be a rare event. The two brothers were drafted together by the Vancouver Canucks in 1999 and, unlike the Staals, have never played an NHL game against one another.

"I think there are a lot of people who will take perverse pleasure in splitting up the Sedin twins," says McKenzie. "The funny thing is, the game is probably better served by having them together. They're more fun together, they create magic on the ice, that's what you want to see in an All-Star game, but the fun of the fantasy draft would be seeing them split up."

McKenzie adds that in these All-Star match-ups between such highly-skilled competitors, it actually really doesn't make a huge difference who is at which end of the ice.

"In an All-Star game, there's as much chance that Sharp and Skinner could light it up as Ovechkin, Stamkos or even Nash," he said.

In what will hopefully be an entertaining first for the NHL All-Star Game and its new format, hockey fans will get to see tonight which route captains Lidstrom and Staal decide to take, and whether they'll have quite as many friends, loyal teammates and/or loving siblings leftover afterwards as they had before.

NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft (Photo: TSN.ca/Getty Images)

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(Photo: TSN.ca/Getty Images)
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