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Who are the biggest 2012 NHL All-Star Game surprise inclusions?

Sean Leahy
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CP - Eugene Melnyk and Gary Bettman

The annual rite of bitching about who did or did not make the NHL's All-Star Game is always fun when the same people, not long after, move on to their complaining about how meaningless the game is and/or how it should be abolished from the league's schedule.

As we're slowly learning today, now that the 2012 rosters have been announced, some guys like Nicklas Lidstrom and Teemu Selanne, quietly asked to not be selected so they can spend the weekend resting up for the second half of the season.

Then there's the injury caveat. As the Edmonton Oilers announced, they were told that if Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins were healthy, they would have been included. With two weeks to go until the All-Star Fantasy Draft, the injury replacement announcements will begin, as well, which means "snubs" today are all-stars tomorrow.

So instead of complaining about who was left off the roster to only find out later that player asked to avoid a weekend in Ottawa, let's take a look at some of the surprise inclusions.

Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks - The kid gets the nod over vets Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton. Again, might be a case of Marleau and Thornton quietly asking to stay home for the weekend.

Jason Pominville, Buffalo Sabres - He's Buffalo's leading scorer and the mayor of the imaginary city announcer Rick Jeanneret believes exists. A case could be made for Thomas Vanek's inclusion if you're going for the "superstar vs. merit" angle, but then we'd have a "snub" somewhere else.

Dan Girardi, New York Rangers - You don't often see blueliners make All-Star teams based on their defensive merit, but it's good to see Girardi honored for his accomplishments. Despite his offensive output (three goals, 15 points), Girardi leads all players in time on-ice (27:18) and is fourth in blocked shots (104).

Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets - The declined invitation from Lidstrom opened the door for another defenseman to slide in and Byfuglien got the call over the likes of Jason Garrison. Or, if we're going by team representation, Byfuglien gets the nod over Evander Kane as the lone Jets all-star.

Dennis Wideman, Washington Capitals - You figured Alex Ovechkin would be there. Maybe Nicklas Backstrom (he's not). If any defenseman from Washington was going to be named an all-star, it'd be Mike Green, but his injury issues opened the door for Wideman, who has eight goals on the year, to make his way to Ottawa.

Brian Elliott, St. Louis Blues - He might have started the least amount of games among the goaltenders chosen, but when you consider of Elliott's 20 starts he's won 15 of them, and his save-percentage is a ridiculous .940, and his goal-against average is 1.62, and he has five shutouts, and ... well, you get the point. Elliott's been a great story during the first half of the season and been a focal point in the Blues' turnaround. Now he returns to Ottawa -- where things fell off a cliff fast -- as an all-star.

Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens - Well, someone had to go from the Habs, right? Price isn't the Price from last season, and while someone like a Marc-Andre Fleury or Roberto Luongo might be more deserving, Canadiens fans will pay attention to the game for at least one period now.

Who's your biggest surprise inclusion on the roster? Anyone you're disappointed won't be there?

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

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