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NHL All-Stars: The fans have spoken

January 3, 2009 |  1:32 pm

Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf celebrates a goal in the second period Friday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. Fan balloting for All-Star Games inevitably produces controversy because the voting becomes a popularity contest and some player who's having a good season isn't voted onto the team.

There will be some squawking about the NHL fan balloting -- much of it done by texting this time around -- but fans are being asked to pay so much to attend games and have so little say in anything else, there's no harm in letting them pick the players they want to see in the NHL All-Star Game, to be played Jan. 25 at Montreal.

The East starters will feature four players from the host Canadiens and two from the Pittsburgh Penguins. The West will feature three Ducks -- goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, defenseman Scott Niedermayer and center Ryan Getzlaf -- and three Blackhawks.

You can see the full results at nhl.com

Do all of these players deserve to be All-Star starters in the classic definition of someone who is better than anyone else at that position? Probably not. But if that's who fans want to see, that's who should start. The selection of reserves can right some of the "wrongs" done by the fan voting.

The Ducks' selections produce some good story lines too. Giguere's first All-Star selection will be in his hometown, which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the league's most storied franchise. Niedermayer isn't having as good a season as in the past, but this may be his finale. Getzlaf has become the franchise player everyone envisioned he would be.

This is the second time that a Southern California NHL team (Ducks or Kings) has had three starters selected to the All-Star Game. The first time involved the 1988-89 Kings, who had three players voted to the 1989 game -- Wayne Gretzky, Luc Robitaille and Steve Duchesne. It's also the first time since 2001 that the Ducks have had multiple All-Star starters. In 2001, Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya were the honorees.

The other West starters are defenseman Brian Campbell and second-year forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, all symbols of the Blackhawks' rebirth.

In the East, overall top vote-getter Sidney Crosby will start alongside Penguins teammate Evgeni Malkin. They'll be joined by Canadiens defensemen Andrei Markov and Mike Komisarek, forward Alex Kovalev and goaltender Carey Price. Crosby's 1,713,021 votes were the most ever in All-Star ballotting, and Malkin had the second-highest total ever at 1,585,936.

The starting lineups were announced Saturday morning in Montreal by the great Jean Beliveau, thankfully recovered from the medical problem that caused him to be hospitalized briefly earlier this week.

Six of the 12 starters are 23 or younger and seven players will be first-time All-Star starters (Malkin, Komisarek and Price for the East; Kane, Toews, Getzlaf and Giguere for the West).

Congrats to all.

-- Helene Elliott

Photo: Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf celebrates a goal in the second period Friday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. Credit: Mark Avery / Associated Press

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