The National Hockey League announced today that Sharks center Joe Thornton
and goaltender Evgeni Nabokov have been named as Western Conference All-Star reserves for the 2008 NHL All-Star Game, which will be held in Atlanta Jan. 27. In addition, Head Coach Ron Wilson was named as an assistant coach to Western Conference Head Coach Mike Babcock of Detroit.
Click here (PICS
) to see photos of the jersey presentations.
The game will take place at 3:00 PM (Pacific) and be broadcast in the United States on Versus.
This will be the fifth career and consecutive NHL All-Star appearance for Thornton (2002-2004 with Boston, no ASG in 2005 or 2006, and 2007 with San Jose). The 2005-06 Hart Memorial and Art Ross Trophy winner leads San Jose this season with 46 points (13 goals, 33 assists) in 41 games and is 17th overall in the NHL. His 33 assists are ninth in the NHL and his face off percentage (56.0) ranks fifth.
“We’re ecstatic,” said Thornton. “It’s actually a fun weekend. I know my family and friends enjoy it.”
In two-plus seasons, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound native of London, Ontario has posted 252 points (55-197=252) in just 181 games with the Sharks, seventh on the team’s all-time list.
Nabokov is the only goalie in the NHL to have started every game for his team this season. Among all League netminders, Nabokov is first in wins (23), second in minutes played (2432:14), fourth in shutouts (five), fifth in saves (908) and fourth in goals-against average (2.01). This marks his second All-Star appearance since 2001, the same year he won the Calder Memorial Trophy.
“Obviously it feels great to go out there,” said Nabokov, sounding excited about the offensive affair. “I love it. I might have to warm up the groins a little bit.”
With fan-elected starter Roberto Luongo skipping the event, Nabokov has a chance to be the starter. Nabokov said playing might actually be better than the four days off.
“To skate a little and play a little doesn’t hurt,” said Nabokov. “To take four days off might hurt a little bit.”
Wilson will be coaching in an All-Star Game for the first time in his 14-year NHL coaching career. This season he has coached the Sharks to a 23-12-6 record, which is third-best in the NHL. Wilson ranks 11th all-time in games coached and third among all active coaches.
“It is definitely an honor,” said Wilson. “The only way I can be there is if the team is playing really well. It’s indicative of there the team is right now. It’s my 14th year and I’ve never gone. I’m thrilled.”
The Western Conference All-Star starters include from the Detroit Red Wings: forwards Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk and defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. Calgary forward Jerome Iginla and defenseman Dion Phaneuf round out the five starting skaters. The Western Conference All-Stars starting goaltender will be Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo.
2006-07 Hart Memorial and Art Ross Trophy winner Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who led all vote-getters for the second consecutive year, will star for the Eastern Conference. Joining Crosby is Tampa Bay forward and current scoring leader Vincent Lecavalier, and Ottawa Captain Daniel Alfredsson. On defense for the East are first –time All-Stars Andrei Markov of Montreal and Boston’s Zdeno Chara. Making his fourth career All-Star game start is New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur.