NHL executive Brendan Shanahan
, an eight-time All-Star during his standout career, stressed to NHL.com Tuesday that it wouldn't be difficult to create a third team to participate in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game presented by Discover.
Shanahan, though, also said some of the players that would be available for that fictional squad wouldn't be able to attend All-Star Weekend anyway.
"Without identifying specific teams or players, there were players that reached out to their general managers, who then reached out to the League to quietly say, 'This guy is playing but he has a nagging injury and he's asked me to ask you to leave him off,' " said Shanahan, the NHL's V.P. for Hockey and Business Development. "We have to respect that."
Even without those few exceptions, Shanahan said there is still a staggering amount of names that had to be left on the cutting-room floor.
"When you start naming these players you start recognizing what we have in this League and what they're doing," he said. "There was a time when the NHL used to bring five lines and eight D and that was no fun for anybody in the game, but it would have certainly helped this year."
Shanahan said the League's entire Hockey Operations Department weighed in on the selection process. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly were also involved.
"It's just a collection of people in Hockey Operations sharing information," he said. "There were some guys that were automatics and other guys that it came down to how they performed right up until the selection. It's a collaborative thing. There are probably several more players that could -- and still may -- end up being in the game."
Past performance was a consideration.
"We try to find a balance between what a player is doing this season and what he's done in his career," Shanahan said. "There are certain players that have had all-star careers and this is a show for the fans, and fans just want to see these guys. We'd love to have another 20 spots to include everybody."
Chicago and Pittsburgh lead with four representatives each, but Hockey Operations only had to select two of the combined eight players between the teams because Sidney Crosby
, Evgeni Malkin
, Jonathan Toews
, Kris Letang
, Duncan Keith
and Marc-Andre Fleury
were voted in by the fans.
Blackhawks forwards Patrick Kane
and Patrick Sharp
were added by Hockey Operations.
"That was a reflection on the fact that, No. 1, they deserved it, and there is also a certain amount of consideration given to the fact that they are the current Stanley Cup champs," Shanahan said. "That matters. It's not simply who has the most points. The hard part was not finding all-stars; the hard part was not including 20 other guys."
"There were some guys that were automatics and other guys that it came down to how they performed right up until the selection. There are probably several more players that could -- and still may -- end up being in the game." -- Brendan Shanahan
There was a little bit of what-have-you-done-lately going on to determine potential tie-breakers between all-star candidates.
"It didn't come down to one game, but certainly if you're saying a couple of guys are tied, if we're split between player A and player B, it probably played into it if player A has had a better January as opposed to October," Shanahan said. "But, no, it didn't come down to any player like, 'If he gets the shutout tonight he's in.' There is no shortage of players.
"Our biggest problem -- and it's a great problem to have -- is that we just have so many great players that could potentially play in this game."
The next step for Shanahan and the Hockey Operations Department is determining the captains and alternate captains that will be tasked of picking the teams on Jan. 28 at the 2011 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft Enabled by Cisco.
"In partnership with the NHLPA, we'll now reach out to the players and allow them to select who they want up on stage to do the picking," Shanahan said.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl