MONTREAL - The people spoke and the NHL listened. Sheldon Souray will be packing his bags for the 55th annual NHL All-Star Game in Dallas on January 24 where he will be a starter on the Eastern Conference blue line.
Thanks to a total of 534,647 votes, Souray will be making his second All-Star appearance, having also earned an invite in 2004. Souray joins Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin of the Capitals, and Buffalo's Daniel Briere, Brian Campbell and Ryan Miller in the starting lineup for the East.
"To be recognized by the fans just makes it all the more special," said Souray, the only Eastern starter with an All-Star game already under his belt. "I'm especially proud to get the chance to represent the Montreal Canadiens again. That means a lot."
His coach couldn't be happier for his power-play quarterback.
"I think is just awesome news for Sheldon and he's earned it," said head coach Guy Carbonneau. "If you ask guys like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Ray Bourque, sure they would have enjoyed the extra few days off, but playing in an All-Star game is a great learning experience and a chance to play with the best players in the world."
Once Souray hits the ice in Dallas he will also become the first defenseman to represent the Canadiens at multiple All-Star games since Chris Chelios skated on the Wales Conference blue line in both 1985 and 1990.
"This isn't about me, it's more about the team and the success we've had this year," added Souray. "There's a bunch of guys in this room who deserve to be going as well. This is a team thing and I'm going to share it with them because they're a huge part of my success this year."
Souray is off to the All-Star Game thanks to overwhelming fan support.
|Brian Campbell ||BUF ||602,982 |
|Sheldon Souray ||MTL ||534,647 |
|Zdeno Chara ||BOS ||511,457 |
|Bryan McCabe ||TOR ||479,124 |
|Tomas Kaberle ||TOR ||451,963 |
|Henrik Tallinder ||BUF ||426,839 |
|Jay Bouwmeester ||FLO ||410,007 |
|Wade Redden ||OTT ||305,497 |
|Dan Boyle ||TB ||254,835 |
|Brian Rafalski ||NJ ||228,827 |
That success has seen Souray explode for 14 goals to lead all NHL defensemen, leaving him only one shy of his career-high of 15 set in 2003-04.
In his NHL All-Star debut in 2004 in Minnesota, Souray picked up an assist on Ilya Kovalchuk's insurance goal in the third period that helped seal a 6-4 win for the Eastern Conference. He also tied Adrian Aucoin in the hardest shot competition with a blast clocked at 102.2 mph.
That week, Souray openly admitted to thinking he would likely never again get the opportunity play in an All-Star game. He was wrong and Souray may have his No. 1 fan to thank for that.
"My mom has been sitting by her computer non-stop for the last little while, so maybe now she can finally get some sleep," said Souray. "Who knows maybe she's been voting all this time and ended up being the difference maker."'
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com
500 reasons to smile for Koivu
Ryder stars in win over Thrashers