The 2011 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft is going to really start taking shape on Tuesday with the announcement of the captains for the game, as they've been selected via a vote by the all-star players.
We spoke with NHL VP of hockey and business development Brendan Shanahan(notes) on Monday night, and he wasn't spilling on the captains' identities; although he did say the respect level for Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby(notes) among his peers "has never been higher" but that the first question from most players was about his recovery from a concussion and availability for the game.
Our full conversation with Shanahan will publish on Tuesday morning, but there were a few bits of news to share about the ASG Fantasy Draft:
• There will be six players (captain, two alternate captains) at two podiums on stage and 36 players seated in the audience. As each one is drafted, they'll come on stage, swap a sport coat for an All-Star jersey and stand behind their new teammates.
• The draft will have 18 rounds. For reasons Shanahan will explain in the interview, both teams must draft their three goalies by the 10th round and all defensemen must be drafted by the 15th round -- leaving six forwards in the final three rounds.
• Which means that there will in fact be a "Mr. Irrelevant" in the NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft: In the end, there will be two players left in the seats, and one will be the official last pick in the draft.
"It's not meant to embarrass anybody. It's meant to be fun and a little tongue-in-cheek," said Shananan, who said there had been earlier discussions about avoiding a "last man standing" scenario.
"We started to put all these mechanisms in place; like, maybe the final six would be split up into two groups of three. We had all of these different ideas," he said. "So I said to the NHLPA, 'Let's start talking to the players, see if they're even into it before I take this to Gary [Bettman].' And the players were like, 'We're really into it, but you don't have to soften this for us. We're totally want this last pick.'"
The way the players saw it, he said, was that they were all all-stars anyway. Plus, they also appreciated the inherent drama of seeing players plummet down the draft board or end up last picked.
"It's all going to be in fun," said Shanahan. "But there's also going to be an underlying emotion of 'I'll show them' that's been totally absent in all-star games in recent years."
Check out our full interview with Shanahan on Tuesday morning.