On his way to the morning skate on Tuesday, defenseman Dan Boyle
got a text from a buddy congratulating him on making the National Hockey League’s All-Star Team.
The funny thing was he wasn’t even aware of it yet.
“I got a text from a buddy of mine at about 9:15 this morning and that’s how I found out,” Boyle said. “I really only found out about 15 minutes before I got here.”
Friends don’t lie. Boyle was one of 12 defensemen who will participate in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game in Raleigh, N.C.on Jan. 30. But the news was a mixed bag for Boyle. At 34, this will be Boyle’s second straight All-Star appearance, but the news comes as San Jose will try to snap a four-game losing streak tonight against Toronto.
“It’s an accomplishment,” he said following the morning skate. “I’m happy, but obviously we’re still playing some games here and we’re on a losing streak so it’s a little bittersweet. But it’s always an honor.”
Besides Boyle, center Logan Couture
was named as a member of the All-Star Rookie roster and will compete in the SuperSkills Competition. Back in 2009, Boyle was taking cues from Joe Thornton
and Patrick Marleau
during his first All-Star appearance in Montreal. Two years later, it’s Boyle’s turn to mentor Couture.
So what advice is Boyle giving to the 21-year-old?
“I’m the old guy now,” Boyle said with a laugh. “It’s pretty easy; just enjoy yourself. I’m sure he’ll know some of the young guys there. You just have to enjoy it for what it is. Just play your game, play well and have fun.”
New to this year’s All-Star Game is the “Fantasy Draft” format. One captain and two alternate captains will be chosen for each team and those players will conduct a player draft to determine the team rosters. The players vote on their captains, who then choose the teams.
When asked about whom he thought would be the captains, Boyle explained that he wasn’t sure who the six would be, but he did know two that he would choose.
“I would probably pick (Detroit’s Nicklas) Lidstrom for one and (Carolina’s Eric) Staal because it’s in Carolina,” he said.
The new format makes for an interesting scenario: one All-Star will be the last one to be picked. It’s both cruel and exciting; the idea that one guy – who has probably never been chosen last for a sporting team in his life – will be chosen last for their team. On live TV. In front of all of North America. (Set your DVR now: VERSUS 5 p.m., PST).
“The draft seems to be the talk of the All-Star Game right now; who’s going to go where and when, who doesn't want to be the last guy,” Boyle said. “I guess that’s fun for the fans and the media, but not so much fun for the players. That’s the last thing on my mind right now.”
Boyle’s focus isn’t on North Carolina. It’s on Toronto. And the Maple Leafs.
Tonight marks the beginning of a three-game homestand for the Sharks and an opportunity for the team to get their first win at HP Pavilion since the start of January. With three of the Sharks last four losses coming by only one goal, Boyle acknowledged the frustration everyone was feeling and stressed the importance of getting goals early.
“I still believe in our team,” Boyle said. “We’ve got to find a way. Obviously we haven’t scored in a couple games and we’re struggling there. It starts with the work ethic. We’ve seen it in the last couple games. Guys have shown up and we’ve come out on the short end. Hopefully the first one will go in and the flood gates will open from there.”
So although Boyle was honored to be named to the All-Star team, there was one thing keeping his enthusiasm in check: the outcome of tonight’s game.
“Hopefully we get a win tonight,” Boyle said, “and I’ll feel a little bit better about it."
Former head coach Ron Wilson is back in town with the Maple Leafs as the Sharks host Toronto tonight at 7:30 PM. Watch the game live on CSN-CA in HD or listen on 98.5 KFOX FM.