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Staal has Carolina on his mind at ASG Draft

by Dan Rosen
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Eric Staal made his own wish come true Friday night by hitting all the right notes in the 2011 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft powered by Cisco.
Staal opened with a bang by selecting Carolina Hurricanes' teammate Cam Ward with the first pick in the draft. He raised the octaves in the seventh round by calling his own brother's name, Rangers defenseman Marc Staal. He subtly played a sweet melody by selecting fellow Thunder Bay, Ont., product Patrick Sharp with his very next pick. Staal then brought the house down by using the first pick in Round 11 on Raleigh sweetheart Jeff Skinner.
Staal even got lucky after Round 15 when, by default, Hurricanes rookie defenseman Jamie McBain ended up on his team for the Honda SuperSkills competition Saturday night.
With his teammates, his brother and his hometown boy all on his side, Staal turned an already-special night into a perfect one by giving Caniac Nation a true home team to root for at RBC Center in Sunday's NHL All-Star Game presented by Discover.
"It all worked out," Staal told shortly after the draft was finished. "I think it's great. For our organization and for all the guys taking part in this event, for us to be together it's great. It's great for our fans to enjoy it together and keep an eye on everybody."
Staal won the pre-draft puck flip and knew right away the direction he was heading.
"Cam and I have been friends and playing together for a very long time, and if it was the other way around I think he would have done the same thing for me," Staal said. "He's obviously a tremendous goalie, one of the best in the League, so I wanted to make sure there was no doubt that he was on our team."
Staal understands going with a goalie as the first pick in an All-Star Game probably isn't the best route considering offense is at a premium in these events. He even said if he weren't Ward's teammate he would have gone with a goal-scorer.
"That weighs into it, though," Staal said of his allegiance to Ward, the 2006 Conn Smythe Trophy winner. "I consider him one of the best so I was glad we could get him."
Ward was relieved because he never felt too confident that his buddy would pick him with the first pick.
"Did I know? No, he didn't outright say he was going to choose me," Ward said. "Obviously I knew I had a lot of help with him being a teammate of mine and a good friend, but building up to it he didn't really lay his cards down. I don't know if he wanted me to sweat it out or what, but fortunately he chose me."
Staal did make his brother sweat it out. He selected Alex Ovechkin, Daniel Sedin, Zdeno Chara and Rick Nash before Marc Staal was finally interviewed by host James Duthie of TSN.
Marc, realizing that his brother passed on him five times in a row, jokingly called Eric "classless" in front of all of North America.
Eric swears he never heard what Marc was saying to Duthie.
"I just know he was saying something dumb," Eric joked. "The door was wide open for me to step through the way I wanted to."
And he did, using the 11th pick on Marc's teammate, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Staal even hesitated between saying "New York Rangers" and "Henrik Lundqvist." The dramatic pause was pre-planned.
"He said New York Rangers and I still didn't get my hopes up. I didn't start to move," Marc Staal told "But, that was pretty funny. Hank's a good goalie, but I'm kind of mad he went before me. Maybe he's got a short memory and he won't say anything. He's been hit with many pucks."
Marc said this will be the first time he can remember being on Eric's team. Even when they used to play on their dad's homemade rink on their sod farm in Thunder Bay, the two oldest Staal brothers never were together.
"No, we were always against each other, it was me and Jordan vs. him and Jared," Marc said. "I enjoyed beating him, but it'll be a change of pace here."
Sharp was the natural next choice for Staal. He'll be playing opposite his own teammates as Patrick Kane made the selections of Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews for Team Lidstrom.
Staal, though, had to manage the draft accordingly to make his final big pick of the night. Realizing that Lidstrom left himself no choice but to take goalies with his picks in the 9th and 10th rounds -- all six goalies had to be gone by the Round 10 and Lidstrom had only Tim Thomas through Round No. 8 -- Staal opted to go with defense in the ninth round.

"It all worked out. I think it's great. For our organization and for all the guys taking part in this event, for us to be together it's great. It's great for our fans to enjoy it together and keep an eye on everybody"
-- Eric Staal

He chose San Jose's Dan Boyle, and then used his 10th round pick on Carey Price, his final goalie. Now, going into the 11th round, he was free to make the choice Caniac Nation was waiting for him to make.
According to Staal and Ward, Skinner receives Justin Bieber-like rock-star status in Raleigh and he got a huge ovation when he went to Team Staal with the 21st pick of the draft.
"When you have Team Staal in that building you know it's going to be fun," Skinner told "The crowd will get behind us and it's going to be a great atmosphere in the building. There will be a lot of memories to come out of this for sure."
The RBC Center crowd will be one-sided for the rest of the weekend. They have their captain to thank.
"Sometimes you've got to go win on the road," Lidstrom told "To have success, you have to win on the road."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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