Biggest names miss high-scoring All Star Game
There was a serious shortage of star power at Scotiabank Place for the All Star Game, which Team Chara won 12-9 over Team Alfredsson.
But there was a serious shortage of star power on the Scotiabank Place ice on Sunday.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was sidelined with concussion-like symptoms and a significant neck injury and the NHL's only other marketing kingpin, Washington Capitals sniper Alexander Ovechkin, discarded his All Star invitation after being hit with a three-game suspension.
The result was a free-wheeling contest that featured little defense, no penalties, no hitting but plenty of scoring as Team Chara out gunned Team Alfredsson 12-9.
New York Rangers winger Marian Gaborik fueled the win with a hat-trick in a four-point performance that earned him Most Valuable Player honours as the NHL brought the showcase back to its wintry roots after last year's All-Star tailgating party in sunny Raleigh.
"For us to have this weekend at home was special," said the Senators' Jason Spezza, one of four Ottawa players to take part.
"The city, the way they have embraced it, everyone has gotten such a warm welcome.
"The fans are genuinely thrilled to have everyone around."
For the second consecutive year, the All Star format honoured a childhood hockey tradition played out on rinks around the world with the two captains, the Senators' Daniel Alfredsson and the Boston Bruins' Zdeno Chara, picking teams from a pool of All Stars.
Gimmick or innovation, the format has proven popular but the game has still not found any of the pizzazz associated with NBA's dunk-fest or Major League Baseball's mid-season classic, which has a competitive edge with the winner gaining home field advantage for the World Series.
Since the first NHL All Star game in 1934, billed as the Ace Bailey benefit game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and a group of All Stars, the NHL has tried to provide the game some relevance.
It has tried Stanley Cup champions against All Star teams, pitted the Wales conference against the Campbell conference and later East against West.
With the arrival of more foreign players, the NHL briefly tried to capitalise on the North American-European rivalry with a North America against the World All Star tilt before switching back to East verses West format.
Part of the problem facing the NHL is the physical nature of the game, the league and owners unwilling to risk players health with playoff runs about to start.
The predictable results were on full display on Sunday.
"I feel like a lamb being led to the slaughter," said Montreal Canadiens netminder Carey Price. "I'm just going to try and hold on."