|Senators centre Jason Spezza (left) and captain Daniel Alfredsson were all-star teammates in Atlanta in 2008. Both are on the ballot for the 2012 NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa and would like to play again on that mid-season stage in front of the home fans (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images).
In a city in which campaigning is a way of life, the stumping is already well underway.
So Daniel Alfredsson, why should hockey fans throw their support behind your longtime Ottawa Senators teammate, Jason Spezza, for a spot in the 2012 NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 29 at Scotiabank Place?
“The playmaking ability (he has),” said the Senators captain, also a candidate to play in the game. “When you think about an all-star game, you think skill and he’s got that more than most of us. Just his vision and, playing in this format, he’s going to shine.”
Now let’s turn the microphone over to a younger member of the voting constituency, Colin Greening, a beneficiary of plenty of Spezza’s work so far this season.
“He makes me look really, really good,” said the rookie forward, who spent a good chunk of this season playing on a line alongside Spezza and Milan Michalek, another Senator on the all-star ballot. “He’s such a skilled player. One of the best attributes he has is his puck control in high-traffic areas. He can just turn nothing into goals. To me, he’s an all-star and everyone should vote for him.”
Expect the campaigning to reach fever pitch as Ottawa’s first all-star game draws closer. Five Senators are on the ballot, including blueliners Erik Karlsson and Sergei Gonchar. The 21-year-old Karlsson currently stands second among all players in the all-star balloting, with his 256,839 vote total trailing only Phil Kessel of Toronto Maple Leafs (258,446), the National Hockey League's current leader in goals and points.
Of course, the groundswell figures to be the biggest for Alfredsson, the beloved Ottawa captain who’d love the opportunity to climb upon that stage. The veteran Swede currently ranks third among all vote-getters in the all-star balloting (233,868) and No. 2 in the forward category.
“It’s always special to be on the all-star team, no matter where it’s played,” he said. “To get a chance to maybe play it in your home city … that would be unbelievable. It would mean a lot and it would be a great experience.”
Spezza, whose previous all-star experience came in Atlanta in 2008, knows being a part of the game in Ottawa would be something special.
“It would be a huge honour,” said Spezza, who reached the 200-goal career plateau in Sunday's 4-3 triumph over the Carolina Hurricanes at Scotiabank Place. “It was a great experience the last time I got to do it. I’d love to get a chance to play in front of the home crowd. It’s definitely a little bit of extra motivation and it would be a special feeling, for sure.”
Alfredsson, for one, believes everyone involved in the 2012 event will feel the same way.
“You have an all-star game and when the players come, you want to have a good atmosphere, a hockey atmosphere,” he said. “I think they’re going to get all that and then some in Ottawa.”
To cast a ballot for your Senators, log on to vote.nhl.com or text the player’s last name (i.e. ‘Alfredsson’) to 81812. The 2012 all-star game fan ballot is also available on mobile devices. A maximum of 30 votes are allowed per person on each platform. Voting to determine the game's starting lineup closes on Jan. 4.