The NHL All-Star Game isn’t taking place in the Music City until next year, but that doesn’t mean the Nashville Predators won’t be well represented in Columbus at the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend. Entering the All-Star Break with the best winning percentage in the League (.722), the Preds had three players, as well as the entire coaching staff selected to attend this weekend’s festivities in the Buckeye State.
On Jan. 10, the NHL announced that goaltender Pekka Rinne, Captain Shea Weber and rookie Filip Forsberg had been named to the All-Star Weekend in Columbus. Nashville has only had three All-Star representatives one previous time, in 2012 when Weber and former defenseman Ryan Suter were chosen as All-Stars and Craig Smith participated in the YoungStars competition.
Forsberg and Weber will be attending the events in Columbus, while Rinne is unable to participate due to injury. Rinne’s spot in the game was filled with Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
The announcement of the Preds’ player representatives came on the heels of Nashville’s coaching staff, led by Head Coach Peter Laviolette and including assistants Phil Housley and Kevin McCarthy and goaltending coach Ben Vanderklok, being named coaches of the All-Star Game on Jan. 9. The Preds coaching staff was selected based on the team having the highest point percentage (.732, 28-9-4) in the NHL at the halfway point of the regular season.
The Preds have had six different players named to NHL All-Star games in their franchise history, with another eight players participating in different YoungStars events.
Sergei Krivokrasov was named to the 1999 NHL All-Star Game in Nashville’s inaugural season. Defenseman Kimmo Timonen represented the Preds in 2000, 2004 and 2007, although he was forced to miss the festivities in 2000 due to injury. Jason Arnott, Tomas Vokoun, Suter and Weber have also skated in the big game while with the Predators.
Nashville has also had representation in the YoungStars game over the years, with former Preds Scott Hartnell, David Legwand, Adam Hall, Dan Hamhuis and Alexander Radulov skating in the contest. Weber, Rinne and Smith have also attended various All-Star Weekends in a YoungStars capacity.
In what was the most impressive offensive output by a member of the Predators in an All-Star Game, Weber dished out four assists while skating for Team Lidstrom at the 2011 Game in Carolina.
So will Weber become the first Nashville Predator to score a goal in an NHL All-Star Game? Sunday evening will be here soon enough...
For more on some historical Preds All-Star memories, see the previously published sections below:
January 24, 1999: Krivo becomes team’s first all-star; Vokoun, Timonen and Trotz follow suit
By virtue of notching 13 goals and 24 points in the first half of the Predators inaugural season, Sergei Krivokrasov became the first player in franchise history to be invited to the NHL All-Star Game, held that year at the Ice Palace in Tampa Bay. Krivokrasov was selected for the Weekend after compiling two dozen points despite missing 10 of the first 42 games due to injury.
In the years since, Timonen (three times in 2000, 2004, 2007) and Vokoun (2004) have been selected for the prestigious mid-season event, in addition to former Head Coach Barry Trotz, who served as an assistant coach for the Western Conference squad in 2007. Timonen and Vokoun became the first Predators defenseman and goaltender, respectively, to represent the club at an All-Star Game.
"It's a great honor, obviously," Timonen said upon his selection in 2007. "It's a lot of fun. I've been there once before and it's a great four days. You get to see different players and my parents are flying in. I'm taking the whole family with me, so I get to spend five days with my family and parents."
January 25, 2009 – Weber makes his first of four-straight (and counting) All-Star Game appearances
In 2009, defenseman Shea Weber competed in his first of four-consecutive All-Star Games. Weber’s selection in 2009 made him the fifth Pred to represent the team at the All-Star Game, since then he’s made two more appearances in the Game, with a third coming this weekend.
Though the then-23-year-old was the fifth Predators player to garner All-Star honors at the time, he became the first All-Star representative that had been drafted and developed by the franchise. In the first half of the 2008-2009 season, he was tied for the League lead in goals by NHL defensemen with 12, second amongst defensemen with 125 shots on goal and fourth amongst blueliners with 28 points. He led the Predators in average ice time, plus/minus rating, hits and shots on goal.
Having participated in the 2007 YoungStars game in Dallas, Weber was no stranger to the All-Star Game festivities upon arrival to the 2009 Game at the Bell Centre in Montreal. He began with an impressive showing at the Skills Competition, coming in second to Boston Bruins’ defenseman and Captain Zdeno Chara in the hardest shot competition. With a blast clocked at 103.4 mph, Weber registered a shot that, at the time, was good enough for the third-fastest speed in competition history. Both Chara and Weber have since surpassed that mark, with Weber hitting an even 106 mph and Chara shooting a record 108.8 mph, both in 2012. In the All-Star Game, Weber finished the night with a +1 rating and one shot on goal in 22:16 of ice time.
The Captain finished the season highly ranked amongst NHL defensemen with the third most shots on net (251) and second most goals (23). He also finished at or near the top of most of the Predators’ statistical categories. He was first on the team in shots on goal and 10 power play goals, second in goals scored, third with 53 points, and fourth with 30 assists in 81 appearances.