Friday, Jan. 18, 2019 | 2 a.m.
Welcome to the Sun's newest podcast where Justin Emerson and Case Keefer partake in a weekly discussion on all topics pertaining to the Vegas Golden Knights. On the inaugural episode, there's talk on what Nate Schmidt has meant to Vegas' recent run, whether the Sharks or Flames present a bigger long-term challenge, the introduction to our first "Shining Knight" competition and much more.
Someone asked me a question last week that many others surely have: What's up with the selection process for the NHL All-Star game and did the Golden Knights get a little disrespected?
Why are the defending Western Conference champions, one of the best teams in hockey in 2018-19, sending only one representative, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury? Are they getting snubbed?
Short answer: no. Long answer: well …
In 2016, the NHL changed the format of its game from the traditional two teams to four teams, one from each division and turned the game into a mini-tournament of 3-on-3 hockey.
The result was smaller rosters on each team, with each division initially getting 10 All-Stars. With eight teams in the Pacific Division and the rule that each team must be represented, it left only two spots.
And with the game in San Jose, Calif., the last two spots went to Sharks. The other seven Pacific teams received one All-Star, and Fleury was the obvious choice. The league added a Last Men In fan vote for an additional spot, and forward Jonathan Marchessault lost to Edmonton forward Leon Draisaitl.
“It probably makes it extra special if you’re going,” Marchessault said. “There’s never a lot of surprise to who goes. If you look around, it’s normally the guys who have been good for a lot of years.”
Even if the rosters were bigger, it may not have helped the Golden Knights send an extra player. Winger Alex Tuch may be the most deserving with 37 points in 41 games, or perhaps defenseman Nate Schmidt with 16 points in 29 games and team-best plus-15 rating, but both pale in comparison to other Pacific players left out.
Calgary alone has a handful players worthy of consideration, as forwards Sean Monahan (58 points), Elias Lindholm (55) and Matthew Tkachuk (55 points) are staying home, as is defenseman Mark Giordano (48).
“You would want a couple extra guys around the league to get that notoriety, but that’s the way of the beats right now, the way it’s set up,” Schmidt said. “It’s just a much more exclusive club, the guys that get in.
“For me, it’s just one way to look at it, and push a little harder the rest of the season, maybe prove you were snubbed, I guess. Hopefully next year.”