When Brett Palin found out he was named to play for Team Canada at the 2009 American Hockey League All-Star Classic, it took him a bit by surprise.
Palin will be the lone representative for the Quad City Flames at the annual event to be held on Jan. 26 in Worcester, Mass.
“It’s a great honour,” said the 6-foot-2, 203-pound blueliner. “There’s a lot of deserving players on our team. To be picked and to get to compete in an All-Star Game is an honour and I was pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t even thinking about it to tell you the truth. When I was told, it took a second to sink in.”
In 36 games this season, Palin has scored twice to go with nine assists and a team-leading plus-five rating.
“My style of game is definitely a defensive one,” said the 24-year-old native of Nanaimo, B.C., who also led Quad City last season with a plus-14 rating. “Sometimes that stat can be overlooked or it doesn’t get that much credit. For me personally, every time I’m on the ice I definitely try to not get scored on. It’s something I take pride in.”
Quad City Head Coach Ryan McGill agreed that Palin’s emergence as a plus player speaks volumes about his play on the ice.
“For some players you have to be very careful when you look at those stats, the plus-minus, but for him you don’t,” McGill said.
“He plays on the road and at home and against every top line in the American Hockey League. To look at that stat is a really good indication of how he’s played. He’s been very consistent. He’s not a flashy guy, but he does all the little things right to give him the opportunity to play in the All-Star Game and to have success as far as being a reliable player.”
Palin will have his work cut out for him at the All-Star Classic in trying to stop the likes of Keith Aucoin of the Hershey Bears and Jeff Taffe of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, who will be playing for the Team PlanetUSA. Aucoin currently leads the AHL in scoring, while Taffe is tied for third.
“It’ll be a little more wide open than I’m used to,” Palin said. “I’m going to go out there and take away some of the passing lanes. They can make some pretty nice plays, so hopefully I can just get in the middle of them.”
Last year, Adam Pardy represented Quad City at the All-Star Classic before earning a spot with the Calgary Flames this season.
“It’s kind of cool to be following him,” Palin said. “It’s just nice to know that I’m heading in the right direction.”
Pardy played for three seasons in the minors with Palin before cracking Calgary’s lineup this year.
“Last year it kind of came to me as a surprise,” Pardy said of his all-star honour. “I just went there and had fun. I’m sure Brett will have fun. He’s a great guy. He deserves everything he gets.”