NHL Stars' Goal: Don't Be Picked Last

NHL Stars' Goal: Don't Be Picked Last

Eric Staal is worried about what his mom will say. Nicklas Lidstrom is worried about what the Carolina fans will do. Mike Green is worried about being picked last - or he was, until he was named a co-captain. Now that dubious distinction becomes everyone else's worry.

Staal and Lidstrom face off Friday night in Raleigh, but not on the ice. Not yet. Instead, the two captains and their henchmen will draft their own teams for Sunday's NHL All-Star Game. Instead of East vs. West, the game will feature Team Staal vs. Team Lidstrom, and in the process, a lot of grown men will be transported back to their school yard days, when kids picked sides and some poor kid would be picked last.

Was the Capitals defenseman ever that kid? "Probably, but I don't remember," Green said. My guess: probably not if the game being played was hockey.

The all-star draft is as eagerly anticipated as the game itself; both will be televised live on Versus. The words "National Hockey League" and "bright idea" don't always reside in the same sentence, but for their 58th All-Star Game, the NHL came up with one of the greatest innovations since slow-motion replay, and a perfect gimmick to draw in new fans. Watching professional athletes pick and choose among their friends, teammates, rivals and enemies to form what they hope will be a winning team - please let this idea spread throughout the land. Start with the Pro Bowl.

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