NHL All-Stars: Joel Quenneville to coach Team Staal, Peter Laviolette to coach Team Lidstrom
Greetings from Raleigh, N.C., site of Sunday's NHL All-Star game.
This will be the first -- and maybe only -- time the format will be a kind of pick 'em setup, instead of players being divided according to geography or nationality. Carolina's Eric Staal was chosen to captain one team to ensure local fan interest and Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom was chosen captain of the other team because ... well, he's Nick Lidstrom and few defensemen have played the game better than he does.
The "fantasy draft" will be held Friday night. The coaches were assigned teams Friday afternoon.
Joel Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks and his assistant, Mike Haviland, were assigned to coach Team Staal, while Peter Laviolette of the Philadelphia Flyers and Alain Vigneault of the Vancouver Canucks will coach Team Lidstrom.
Quenneville and Haviland were named as All-Star coaches as a reward for guiding the Blackhawks to the 2010 Stanley Cup championship. Laviolette and Vigneault earned All-Star coaching honors for leading the East and West, respectively, through the midpoint of the regular season, which occurred Jan. 8.
Staal will draft for his team, assisted by Vancouver's Ryan Kesler and Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis. Lidstrom will be assisted by Washington's Mike Green and Chicago's Patrick Kane.
The draft will consist of 18 rounds. Each team must draft three goaltenders by the end of the 10th round and five defensemen by the end of the 15th round.
It's an odd format, but the NHL felt it had to do something to spice up a game that more and more players have been trying to avoid. Sunday's game is really a trial run of this format, which could be changed or discarded next time around.
Check back later for more All-Star doings.
-- Helene Elliott in Raleigh, N.C.
Photo: Chicago Blackhawks Coach Joel Quenneville. Credit: Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press.