By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
When Marc Staal
was selected to represent the Rangers in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game last week, he joked that if his brother Eric -- the Carolina Hurricanes forward -- was to be one of the captains in the game, and in charge of choosing his own teammates as per the new league policy, that he would prefer playing against his brother as opposed to with him.
“I could never play on the same team with him, he’s too mouthy,” Staal said with a laugh.
When it comes to siblings, however, often the final word goes to the eldest. And it looks like Eric will get the final word as to whether or not Marc will be his teammate or opponent in the All-Star Game on Jan. 30, because the league announced on Tuesday morning that Eric Staal and Nicklas Lidstrom of the Red Wings will captain the two teams next week.
|If Carolina and All-Star captain Eric Staal wants to get along well with his brother Marc at NHL All-Star Weekend, he might be well-advised to make sure Marc is part of Team Staal at the All-Star Game. |
“I was just retaliating when I made those comments because he said he was going to take other guys than me (if named captain),” Staal said after Tuesday’s practice. “But if he’s smart he will pick me, because I think I may be staying with him (at Carolina, the site of this year’s NHL All-Star Weekend). If he wants the same travel schedule then he may want to pick me. Or, if not, I’ll have to take one of his vehicles. Whichever he prefers.”
Kidding aside, the All-Star festivities are going to be extra special for the Staal family this year. Eric will be playing in his fourth NHL All-Star Game, although it’s the first in which either of his brothers -- Marc or Penguins forward Jordan -- will also be taking part. And Eric will be the hometown hero captain with Raleigh, N.C., serving as this season’s host city.
With their parents traveling in from Thunder Bay, Ontario, for the event, the 2011 NHL All-Star Game will be a real Staal family affair.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun to get the whole family together and have that experience together,” said Staal, 24. “It’s going to be my first time being a part of it for real after playing in the rookie games before, so it should be real cool. We’re both really looking forward to it.”
In his fourth NHL season, Marc Staal
has emerged as one of the league’s top shutdown defensemen, a true workhorse who plays nearly 26 minutes per game on average. Offensively, Staal has stepped forward, too, scoring six goals and adding 11 assists to total 17 points through 47 games this season.
Eric Staal, who is also captain of the Hurricanes, has notched 22 goals already this season – the eighth-most in the league -- to go along with 46 points, which ranks him 11th in the NHL scoring race. He is a four-time 30-goal scorer, who has topped 40 twice already in his career.
“He deserves being named captain, I think,” Staal said of his older brother. “He’s done a lot in his career, so far. He’s won MVP of the All-Star game, won a Stanley Cup. Guys know him and respect him. And he deserves this 100 percent.” Marc Staal
will be joined by his Rangers’ teammates Henrik Lundqvist
and Derek Stepan
at the 2011 NHL All-Star Weekend. Lundqvist, like Staal, will play in the all star game, while Stepan will take part as one of 12 rookies on the SuperSkills competition.