On second thought, maybe the NHL All-Star Game captains need to be jovial ambassadors of the game who will give the 2012 event a sense of friendly competition and good-natured nostalgia; rather than inspiring bile-filled hatred for one of the two teams, one captained by an impersonal killjoy.
Which is why we have Team Daniel Alfredsson battling Team Zdeno Chara in Ottawa, instead of Team Dion Phaneuf (or, in our dreams, Team Phil Kessel).
From the NHL:
Two veteran and respected captains of their National Hockey League clubs, Daniel Alfredsson of the All-Star host Ottawa Senators and Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins, have been named team captains for the 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend in Ottawa, the National Hockey League Players' Association and the National Hockey League announced today.
The Captains were selected by their fellow NHL All-Stars and will lead the team selection process during the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Player Fantasy DraftTM on Thursday, Jan. 26. As captains, Alfredsson and Chara also will set their team rosters for the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills CompetitonTM on Saturday, Jan. 28, and wear the "C" during the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL® All-Star Game on Sunday, Jan. 29.
The NHL All-Star teams are now designated as Team Alfredsson and Team Chara. Team Alfredsson will wear the white Reebok NHL® All-Star jerseys, helmets and socks, with red trim throughout and red gloves and pants. Team Chara will wear the dark blue jerseys with royal blue trim, navy blue helmets, gloves and pants and navy blue socks.
Two alternate captains, one for each team, will be named later.
It's not as if naming a Boston Bruin doesn't carry its own unique charms. As James Duthie of TSN reported today:
"Milan Lucic (laughing) on Chara as All-Star captain —'I'm pretty sure there won't be any Canucks on Z's team.'"
And if Chara's alternate captains are Marian Hossa and Brian Elliott (or an injury-replacement Dany Heatley), they might as well skate out to the nWo theme.
We had heard the NHL preferred to make this a Battle of Ontario captain vs. captain event, and yet it's the Boston Bruins star and former Senator Chara who wears the 'C'.
So the inevitable question: Did last night's incident with Nick Foligno scare those involved off the Phaneuf vs. Alfie matchup?
Naturally, with a Boston Bruin in the captain's chair, the question of 2011 Last Pick Phil Kessel's draft position has been debated since the announcement. First off, we'd expect he'll be an alternate captain just to end the drama (as will Iginla — that's pretty much guaranteed, no?) But if he isn't, here's Zdeno Chara on last year's NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft:
"Somebody had to be last, but getting a car I don't think it's a big deal," said Chara. "It's part of the business: Somebody has to be first and somebody has to be last."
Chara and Kessel had their run-ins over No. 81's toughness and commitment to hard work while Phil the Thrill was in Boston, but the 6-foot-9 defenseman appeared to have no qualms taking him on his All-Star team. And if Kessel turns about to be the NHL All-Star game version of Mr. Irrelevant again, then he'll get another new car out of the deal.
"I don't know. We'll see how it goes. Somebody has to go last," said Chara with a smile on his face. "I don't know if they'll have a car for him or something else . . . we'll see how it goes."
Did anyone else just feel a chill?
So it's Team Alfredsson vs. Team Chara. OK, fine. We dig it. One request: Since Spezza and Chara are in the game, any chance for an Alexei Yashin cameo? Or making Mike Milbury special guest general manager?