MONTREAL – Over the next seven weeks, hockey fans will be called to the polls to help make history when the All-Star Game rolls into Montreal this coming January.
With six Canadiens players on the official ballot this year, fans voting between November 12 and January 2 will have the unique opportunity to ensure that the Eastern Conference starting lineup is comprised entirely of Habs’ stars.
Since 1986, the first year fans were given the opportunity to vote for the starters in the annual match-up, there has never been a team whose players have filled every spot for the opening faceoff.
The Edmonton Oilers came close in 1986 when Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson, Paul Coffey and Grant Fuhr were named as starters for the Campbell Conference squad. Unfortunately for the Oilers, Blackhawks rearguard Doug Wilson spoiled their bid for the sweep when he took his place alongside Coffey on the blue line to start the game.
Since then, no team has had more than four players suit up for a squad in any year. The 1988 Oilers sent a quartet of All-Stars to the game, as did the 1992 Pittsburgh Penguins but since then, no other team has accomplished the feat in the conference vs. conference format.
While Canadiens fans managed to successfully send a representative to each of the previous two All-Star Games, with Sheldon Souray suiting up for the East in 2007 followed by Andrei Markov
in 2008, only two other Habs players have been named to the team in the past 20 years. Patrick Roy leads the list of recent attendees, having taken part in five consecutive All-Star Games as a starter from 1990 to 1994. Prior to Roy, forward Mats Naslund made an appearance at the game in 1989.
While it isn’t the first time Montreal will be hosting the showcase of the league's best, this time, it will be Canadiens’ fans, not the players themselves, who hold the team’s destiny in the palms of their hands.Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com