ATLANTA -- Eric Staal
has the keys to a brand new silver 2008 Dodge Journey and he’s got a decision to make.
Does the McDonald’s All-Star Game MVP, who finished Sunday night’s NHL All-Star Game with two goals and an assist on the game-winning tally, add the vehicle to his garage in North Carolina? Does he dish the keys off to his parents, Henry and Linda?
Or, does he choose between his three younger brothers and give the truck to either Marc of the New York Rangers, Jordan of the Pittsburgh Penguins, or Jared of the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves?
“That’s what I’m wondering,” Marc Staal told NHL.com. “He’ll probably give it to my parents. I can’t compete with that. I can’t compete with a free car.”
Eric said if he does give the keys to his parents, he’ll be “the favorite in the family for at least a little while.”
“If he wants to give us the car,” an excited Linda Staal told NHL.com by phone, “that would be wonderful.”
No matter what he decides, nobody can be mad at Eric nowadays.
The Carolina Hurricanes’ star already has given his family more than enough memories in his short NHL career. He brought the Stanley Cup home to Thunder Bay in 2006 and now he has an All-Star Game MVP on his growing resume.
“He’s got a few more years in the League on us, but obviously he’s a great player and he’s had a ton of success so far,” Marc Staal said. “Me and Jordan, we’re just proud of him.”
Staal admitted he was a bit surprised when he was named the MVP. He figured that, even in a loss, Columbus left wing Rick Nash would have taken home the honor after registering the game’s lone hat trick.
Remember, Danny Briere won it last year in Dallas even though the East lost.
“I think the fact that we won and I was out on the ice for that last goal, but Nash had three tucks and I thought he might have a crack at it,” Eric said. “I guess they wanted someone from the winning side, but being the one called up there I was a little surprised.”
“I guess I was shocked because Rick Nash had three goals,” Linda Staal said. “I was kind of surprised, but he had a great game.”
Staal not only scored the East’s first goal 1:20 into the game, he netted the game-tying goal with 7:25 to play in the third and had the secondary assist on Marc Savard’s game-winner with 21 ticks left on the clock.
His game-tying goal was a thing of beauty as he and Thrashers left wing Ilya Kovalchuk orchestrated a beautiful 2-on-1 that put defenseman Dion Phaneuf on a yo-yo and completely befuddled West goalie Manny Legace.
Staal fed a circle-to-circle pass to Kovalchuk, who then dished a one-touch pass back across the high slot to Staal for the one-timer.
“(Kovalchuk) is one of those players who has such a great shot and the goalie, he knows that. I tried to move it to him right away for that goal,” Staal said. “He made a great pass back to me and kind of fooled both the goalie and defenseman. I looked up and saw an empty net, but it was a nice play by him.”
Phaneuf was fooled, too.
“I thought (Kovalchuk) was going to shoot it, and he made a great pass back,” the defenseman from Calgary told NHL.com. “That’s the fun of these games for those guys, not for us.”
Staal also started the play on the game-winning goal by feeding Brian Campbell from behind the net. Campbell quickly shuffled a pass to Savard, who smacked it past Legace from roughly 12 feet out.
“Any time you get a couple of goals in the All-Star Game you’re obviously a factor,” East coach John Paddock told NHL.com, “and the assist on the winner is probably what got him the MVP.”
It also created quite a quandary for Eric Staal.
What to do? What to do?
“I’m not sure,” he said. “If (his brothers) play their cards right, maybe they’ll get the keys. I don’t know.”
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org.