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Blues goalie Elliott ends vacation for All-Star shot

by Dan Rosen /

COLUMBUS -- St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott was snorkeling with his wife, Amanda, off the coast of the Turks and Caicos Islands on Thursday. Twenty-four hours later they were on their way to Columbus, by way of St. Louis so they could pick up some clothes and Elliott his gear.

Elliott's all-star vacation was supposed to last until Saturday; he cut it a day short because being part of the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend was too important to him and too big of an opportunity to pass up.

"From a young age being a goalie, whenever I got a chance to go on the ice, I always said, 'Yes,'" Elliott told during a phone interview Friday night before he boarded his flight from St. Louis to Columbus. "That's usually what happened in the summertime. I'd play a game and the next team would say they were missing a goalie and (ask) would I play. I always said, 'Yes.'

"With an honor like this, you can't turn it down. That honor doesn't get taken lightly and that's why I wanted to say yes and come as quickly as I could. It's just awesome to be able to do it."

Elliott had a voicemail from Blues general manager Doug Armstrong waiting for him when he got back from his snorkeling trip. He called Armstrong back, quickly said yes to the opportunity that was presented to him, and started making plans to travel to Columbus.

"We already had two full days [of vacation]," Elliott said. "We had our last game on Monday night, so we were there most of the day Tuesday, all of Wednesday and Thursday, so we still had a pretty good vacation as far as the all-star break goes. We said we're in, and we organized the flight plans after that."

Elliott said it has been hectic trying to organize everything, including getting hotel rooms and tickets to the events for his father and his brother, who were driving down from Toronto on Friday and likely were going to arrive before Elliott and his wife.

He wasn't complaining. He was thrilled that it all has worked out.

"It's not a normal thing, especially coming back from a country you've never been to before," Elliott said. "It's actually worked out pretty good."

It's not as if Elliott didn't earn his trip here to Columbus to play in the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). Despite an injury that kept him out of the lineup for 14 games, Elliott leads the NHL with a 1.86 goals-against average and is fourth with a .930 save percentage in 22 appearances. He is 13-5-2.

"He's someone who has worked hard and deserves it, so he's excited to come here," said Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who will play for Team Foligno with Elliott. "It's a good opportunity for him and I know when he was asked he kind of just jumped right on the opportunity."

It hasn't been easy for Elliott either. He's a two-time all-star now, but he's been cast off by the Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche, then had to outlast Jaroslav Halak, Ryan Miller and Jake Allen to keep his job as the Blues' No. 1 goalie.

"It's not an easy thing to deal with, but it's kind of been there my whole career, even through college," said Elliott, who played at the University of Wisconsin. "I've always taken the approach to put your head down and work, and the results will take care of themselves when you don't question things."

Shattenkirk said he is impressed that Elliott has been able to deal with it all.

"I think that's the one thing that he has done well is that while everyone else has kind of pushed him aside and said it's not going to work, he's the one guy who has truly believed that it will," Shattenkirk said. "I really believe that he is probably one of the hardest-working guys in the NHL, one of the hardest-working guys I have ever played with because he plays with that chip on his shoulder. I think he has always wanted to prove himself as an elite goalie in this league, and if you look at his numbers, year after year he's there.

"It's great to see. He's someone who has worked really hard and someone who really deserves it."


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