Swede Lidström named NHL all-star captain

Swede Lidström named NHL all-star captain
Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidström
Swedish blueliner Nicklas Lidstrom was selected as an NHL all-star captain for the 2011 game, responsible for picking his team out of a pool of elite players.

Lidström, captain of the Detroit Red Wings, is one of the best defensemen in NHL history and will be appearing in his 12th all-star game.

The Red Wings are noted for its roster knee-deep in talent from Sweden, dubbed the Swedish embassy on ice and the Ikea Express, that has helped it win four Stanley Cups in the last 15 years, most recently in 2008.

Current Swedish players in its lineup include alternate captain Henrik Zetterberg, defencemen Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall, left winger Johan Franzén and right winger Tomas Holmström.

Lidström will face off against a team selected by Canadian forward Eric Staal, the captain of the host Carolina Hurricanes who is making his fourth all-star appearance. He was chosen the most valuable player of the all-star game three years ago.

The status of the NHL’s leading scorer Sidney Crosby is in doubt for the game. The Pittsburgh Penguins star remains sidelined with a concussion. If Crosby can’t play, it will mark the third time he’s missed an all-star game because of injury. He appeared in his only all-star game four years ago.

Staal told a Canadian television station last week that he’d like to use his first pick in the draft to take his Carolina teammate and Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward. His brother, Rangers defenseman Mark Staal, is also up for grabs.

The captains will select their teams in a live draft two days prior to the game. The only rules governing the draft are that goaltenders must be taken after each team’s 10th pick and defencemen have to be gone by the 15th selections. That leaves forwards to pick up the slack late.

Some notable names that were left off the all-star roster are the Philadelphia Flyers’ Daniel Brière (24 goals, 40 points) and Dallas Stars forward Brenden Morrow (18 goals). Morrow was a member of Canada’s 2010 gold medal-winning Olympic team.

Brière has 10 more goals than American forward David Backes, who was the lone player chosen to represent the St. Louis Blues. With the new format, someone has to face the indignity of being the final selection.

Asked about potentially being the last pick, Backes, known more as a checker than a scorer, said, “I think I got a little more steam in my engine than that.”

The annual all-star game will be held on January 30th in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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