It’s been quite a memorable two days for the Washington Capitals
’ Alexander Ovechkin.
On Thursday, the Russian superstar signed the largest deal in National Hockey League history, a 13-year pact worth $124 million.
And Friday, he was named to his second consecutive Eastern Conference All-Star team.
Ovechkin certainly has earned both his rich new contract as well as his All-Star spot. He’s second in the League with 32 goals, and he leads the Capitals in goals, power-play goals (13), points (52), shots (224), hits (115) and is tied for the lead with a plus-6 rating.
Joining Ovechkin on the forward lines for the Jan. 27 game in Atlanta will be a pair of hometown favorites, Thrashers forwards Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa.
The Atlanta pair has combined to score 52 of the club’s 127 goals, including a League-best 36 by Kovalchuk, who also has 61 points. It’s the second All-Star nod for Kovalchuk, who led all players in voting the for 2004 game.
Hossa is second to Kovalchuk among Atlanta players with 16 goals, 22 assists and 38 points. This will be his fifth All-Star appearance, following selections in 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2007. He missed the 2004 game due to injury.
Besides starters Sidney Crosby, Vincent Lecavalier and Daniel Alfredsson, other forwards making the team are Scott Gomez of the New York Rangers, Ottawa’s Dany Heatley, Philadelphia’s Mike Richards, Ottawa’s Jason Spezza, Carolina’s Eric Staal and Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis.
"I don't know what to expect but I'm really looking forward to it," Richards told the Flyers' Web site. "I spoke to (General Manager Paul) Holmgren this morning and he told me to spice it up a bit and throw some hits, but I know a lot of the guys playing in the game so it'll be nice to see them again."
Richards, in his third season, will make his first All-Star appearance. He leads his team in goals (19), assists (28), points (47) and plus-minus (plus-12), he's third in the League with four shorthanded goals, and he's also scored four game-winning goals for the resurgent Flyers.
Staal, who will play in his second straight All-Star Game, leads the Southeast Division-leading Hurricanes with 23 goals, and his 41 points are tied for second on the club.
Gomez and Heatley will be making their second All-Star appearances, while St. Louis will be going for the fourth time.
Joining Richards from the Flyers will be defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who will play for the East for the first time after two previous All-Star trips for the Western Conference when he played for Nashville.
"It's a great honor every time to be named to the All-Star Game," Timonen said. "The first time I played I was a little nervous, the second time I was able to enjoy it a little more and I know this time will be even better. I'll be taking my family to Atlanta also, so I'll get to spend time with the family."
Also joining starting defensemen Andrei Markov of Montreal and Zdeno Chara of Boston will be Buffalo’s Brian Campbell, Pittsburgh’s Sergei Gonchar and Toronto’s Tomas Kaberle.
Gonchar, the Penguins veteran, will make his fifth All-Star appearance. He leads all Eastern Conference defensemen with 27 assists and 34 points. Campbell, who was voted in as a starter last season, is second to Gonchar in the East with 24 assists.
Joining New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur in goal will be first-time All-Star Rick DiPietro of the New York Islanders and Florida’s Tomas Vokoun, who will make his first appearance for the East after playing in the 2004 game for the West.
"It was a shock to be named to the All-Star Game because that's always been a dream of mine while growing up and watching the skills competition and those games as a kid," DiPietro told the Islanders' Web site. "To have it come true is amazing. Having an opportunity to be a New York Islander the last six years has been more fun than I could have ever imagined and to be able to represent the Islanders in an All-Star Game is going to be great."
Vokoun also was excited to have an opportunity.
"It's always a great honor to be selected to an All-Star Game among so many great players," Vokoun said to the Panthers' Web site. "The first time I went to an All-Star Game I didn’t know what to expect and I was very excited. This time I have a good understanding of what’s going on and what it will be like."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org