Five Blueshirts in Running for All-Star Roster Spots
Last season, there was only one Rangers representative at the NHL All-Star Game. This time around, onn Jan. 27 in Atlanta, there could be as many as five.
It will ultimately be up to the fans to determine if Lundqvist and the other Rangers make it to the Eastern Conference roster as starters. Balloting began earlier this month and continues through Jan. 2, 2008. After the starting six for both conferences are selected, head coaches of the two teams will have an opportunity to add players, which could open the door for even more Rangers not on the ballot.
Fans have been voting for the All-Star starters since 1986, and over the years, fans from specific local markets have shown tremendous support for a given team by loading starting lineups with its players. Such strong turnouts in voting are often seen as evidence for a team's popularity throughout the league. Five Edmonton Oilers started in the 1986 game, three Los Angeles players in 1989, and three Pittsburgh players in 1992.
Indeed, Lundqvist's appeal is so great this season that even former Islanders captain Denis Potvin, certainly no favorite of longtime Rangers fans, is singing the Swede's praises. Speaking on XM Satellite Radio over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Potvin remarked that Lundqvist is probably "the best goaltender in the world right now" and said if he was choosing a league MVP for the first quarter of the season, the Blueshirts goalie would get his vote.
A year ago, Shanahan was added to the Eastern roster for the game in Dallas, and in 2004, the last year in which an All-Star Game was played before the 2007 event, Jagr played on the Eastern Conference team just 16 days after joining the Blueshirts in a trade.
Shanahan and Jagr's legacy in the All-Star Game is so deep that the two players once started on the same line as All-Stars, along with Mario Lemieux, in 1996.
Since fan voting began, the record for Rangers players in the starting lineup of a conference team is two, with Brian Leetch and Wayne Gretzky both being voted into the 1997 game. No Rangers player has been chosen to start an All-Star Game since Leetch in 2003. The former Rangers defenseman, whose No. 2 will be retired just three nights before the All-Star Game takes place, missed the 2003 game due to injuries. Leetch is also the most recent Rangers player to be on the ice for the start of an All-Star Game, which happened in 1998 at Vancouver.
Once again, voting will be conducted only via the All-Star Fan Balloting link, sponsored by XM Satellite Radio, on NHL.com and via text messaging on the Verizon Wireless network in the U.S. and the Bell network in Canada. Balloting continues until 11:59 p.m. ET on Jan. 2, 2008.
The 2007 NHL All-Star Game ballot is currently available on the NHL.com website at: