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All-Star teams fall along club and country lines

Thursday, 01.26.2012 / 11:12 PM / 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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All-Star teams fall along club and country lines
Chara loads up with B's, Slovaks vs. Alfie's Sens, Swedes
GATINEAU, Que -- Battle lines have been drawn for Sunday's 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game.
 
It's  Team Chara, with all the Bruins, Leafs and Slovaks, versus Team  Alfredsson, which has all the Senators, Canucks and Swedes.
 
"That's  the way it should be," Alfredsson said. "It'll be a good game. There is  a little bit of rivalry involved here. It should be a little bit more  intense maybe more than normal. It is an All-Star Game and nobody wants  to get hurt, but I know Zdeno and he doesn't want to lose. And, I'm  pretty competitive myself."
 
Chara,  who won the ceremonial puck flip for the right to pick first, went off  the board and selected Pavel Datsyuk with the No. 1 pick of the 2012  Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft. Chara's reason was  simple: he doesn't want to play against Datsyuk on Sunday.
 

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"I  think it's pretty obvious that he's an unbelievable player," Chara  said. "I really admire the way he plays the game, the way he acts on and  off the ice. It was my individual goal to get him first, and I was  happy that I could have done it."
 
Favoritism and allegiances ruled the rest of the draft.
 
As  promised, Alfredsson picked teammate Erik Karlsson, who babysits for Alfredsson's kids, with his first pick in the draft. After Chara picked his  goalie, Tim Thomas, Alfredsson went and grabbed Jason Spezza, his  longtime Ottawa teammate.
 
Chara,  though, opted to wait a round before selecting one of his countrymen  (Marian Hossa in the fourth round). He couldn't pass up the opportunity  to select the red-hot Evgeni Malkin, who leads the NHL with 58 points.
 
Putting  Malkin with Datsyuk on the same line is certainly an enticing option for  Claude Julien, the Bruins coach who will make Sunday's bench decisions for  Team Chara.
 
"That's  going to be more for the coaches, but that's one of the scenarios you  can have," Chara said. "But, if you even separate those two, they can  totally make a line. You can't go wrong in the All-Star Game. You have  so many talented and great players that you're going to have a good team  no matter what."
 
Chara  said he wasn't going to mess with Alfredsson picking all the Senators,  so he left Milan Michalek on the board. Alfredsson waited until Round 12 to select the final Senator in the draft.
 
Alfredsson  also said he didn't think Chara was going to select any Canucks due to  the bitter rivalry between Boston and Vancouver, so after selecting  Daniel Sedin in the ninth round, he played his cards right by getting  defensemen Dan Girardi and Keith Yandle as well as Michalek before  picking Henrik Sedin in the 13th round.
 
"At  that point you don't want to cause any controversy, so you don't want  to separate brothers," Chara said when asked if he thought about taking  Henrik Sedin after Daniel was picked. "If I had a brother I wouldn't  want to be separated from him. I respected that and I moved on."
 
Similarly,  Alfredsson said he had no interest in picking any Toronto or Boston  players. He had to consider both the Battle of Ontario and Chara's  desires.
 
Phil Kessel
Right Wing - TOR
GOALS: 26 | ASST: 25 | PTS: 51
SOG: 173 | +/-: 1
Chara,  whose assistant captain was Leafs winger Joffrey Lupul, snagged Phil  Kessel in the eighth round and Dion Phaneuf in the 13th round. He made  Tyler Seguin sweat it out before picking him in the 18th round.
 
"I think he knew I would pick him; I just had to make some picks first," Chara said. "I wouldn't let him sneak away from me."
 
Giving  the home crowd further reason to cheer for Team Alfredsson (as if they  didn't already have enough with all four Senators on the same team),  Alfredsson was happy to select Claude Giroux and Logan Couture. Giroux's  family lives in Ottawa and Couture played his junior hockey with the  Ottawa 67s of the Ontario Hockey League.
 
"I'm really happy with our team," Alfredsson said. "I'm pretty confident now we're going to have the crowd behind us."
 
Alfredsson, though, did admit it would have been nice to get either Datsyuk or Malkin. His draft strategy got in his way.
 
Chara had no regrets.
 
"It's  fair enough to have the team guys together, especially for Ottawa  fans," Chara said. "When they can have their home team players on the  same team, I think it makes it very special for them. Obviously I didn't  want to interfere with that. I respect that. I'm sure the other side  understood that my goal was to try to keep my countrymen and teammates  together as well. I'm glad it worked out for both sides."
 
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl