The NHL announced its team leaders for its All-Star weekend festivities. Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno will wear the C for the home team while Blackhawks captain forward Jonathan Toews will lead the visitors.
Foligno’s alternate captains will be Los Angeles King Drew Doughty, and, in a surprise twist that breaks up a longtime duo–Blackhawk Patrick Kane. The team will be coached by Kings head coach Darryl Sutter.
Foligno, 27, of Buffalo, NY, is in his third season with Columbus, but his eighth in the NHL. This year, he is leading the Blue Jackets in goals, with 18 (tied at 12th in the league), and points, 40 (tied at 15th in the league). He’s tied at third in the league with power play points, 20, and power play goals, nine.
Toews is making his fourth All-Star game appearance. At 26, the Winnipeg, Manitoba, native has two gold medals and two Stanley Cup wins under his belt, and is second in goals (13), assists (25), and points (38) on the Blackhawks this year. He’s also a plus-15 on the ice, 17th in the league.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s not something I expected,” Toews told local media. “It’s definitely an honor, so it’s going to be fun sitting across from Kaner. I’m sure the competition is starting already to see what’s going to happen.”
Much like on the pond, a Fantasy Draft format means the captains will be picking their teams from the All-Star roster, which includes the six players chosen through fan voting and now includes Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury as a replacement for injured Nashville Predators netminder Pekka Rinne as well as Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak in for Red Wings tender Jimmy Howard.
Kane delayed choosing Toews in the last All-Star game, but ultimately the two played on the same team.
Toews will have his pick of a few other Blackhawks–and only one has made any pleas so far, he said.
“Only Seabs. He said, ‘Just make sure I don’t get picked last,'” Toews told press. “I don’t think it’s really fun for the guy who gets picked last, and I don’t think anyone means that personally to that guy. But I mean, I’ll be 100 percent honest, I wouldn’t like to get picked last. I don’t think Kaner would, either. So, that’s the unfortunate thing. Other than that, I think it’s a fun thing. We’ll try to make the best of it and make sure whoever it is doesn’t feel slighted by any means.”
View more about the players as presented by the NHL here.
The home team will also wear the black sweater, while visitors wear the white–though neither team is really a winner there.
At least, that’s the consensus on Twitter.
Is it just me or do the NHL All Star jerseys look like something straight out of motocross? http://t.co/Tpn7pA6OtI
— Stephen Amendt (@StephenAmendt) January 14, 2015
Blue Jackets executive vice president of business operations, Larry Hoepfner, said festivities begin with an All-Star Winter Park across from Nationwide Arena Jan. 16-25.
— NHL Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) January 15, 2015
Beyond the game and skills competition are public skating and private events at the Winter Park, a 34-foot high and 85-foot wide snow slide stretching 175 feet along Nationwide Boulevard for use Jan. 22-25, and a “Hockey House,” with family-friendly activities, food, drinks, and live music.
All-Star weekend will begin with the DraftKings Fantasy Draft at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT Friday, Jan. 23 to complete the rosters. It will be televised on NBCSN in the U.S. and on Sportsnet and TVASports.
On Saturday, Jan. 24, the All-Stars and rookies will participate in the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition at 7:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. CT on NBCSN, CBC, and TVA Sports.
Puck-drop for the All-Star game is set for 5:00 p.m. ET/4:00 p.m. CT Sunday, Jan. 25 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, and will be broadcast on NBCSN, CBC, and TVA Sports.