Oilers get over All-Star snub

Oilers forwards Jordan Eberle (left) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins celebrate a goal against the Wild at...

Oilers forwards Jordan Eberle (left) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins celebrate a goal against the Wild at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta., Nov. 30, 2011. (DAN RIEDLHUBER/Reuters)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:17 PM ET

EDMONTON - The snub resonated loudly throughout the city.

It had the NHL tripping over itself, backpedalling trying to explain why Edmonton Oilers forwards Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had not received an invite to play in the All-Star game.

The league informed the Oilers that both would have been invited to play had they not been injured. Yet still included Nugent-Hopkins in the rookie skills competition.

“Ebs not being selected is baffling to me,” said Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff. “From what I understand, there was a chance of him being healthy in time to play in the game.

“If he works hard and if he does come back, it would be unfortunate that he’s not there. I’ve never heard of the league coming out and making statements like that, so it’s interesting.

“But every year there’s going to be questions as to why a certain player got in and another one didn’t. It happens every year and it’s unfortunate.”

Eberle is currently 10th in league scoring, ahead of players such as Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Toews, Jaime Benn, Tyler Seguin, Jarome Iginla and Logan Couture, who all received invites.

The Oilers sophomore is currently out of the lineup having injured his knee Saturday in a game against the Dallas Stars.

However, in years past, those deserving of going to the All-Star game have been named to the game, and if they were unable to play, then suitable replacements were named.

At the very least the Oilers felt it would have been nice for the league to recognize the pair.

“From a selfish perspective, sure,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “But there are other athletes involved in this as well. It’s very delicate, of course. The bottom line is that we’ll eventually earn respect.

“These kids have helped us earn respect anyway and will continue to as this organization moves to being a champion. Those guys will be around to help recognize that, too, and at the end of the day, that’s the bottom line. However the mechanism worked this time around, I don’t think we should make too big a deal about it. Certainly internally we won’t. We know how valuable they are to our organization.”

Hopkins is currently nursing a shoulder injury suffered in Chicago just after the New Year.

If healthy, he’ll be one of 12 first-year players selected to take part the skills competition the night before the All-Star game in Ottawa.

“It’s definitely a big honour for me to get invited to that,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “I’m surprised about Jordan, I thought he had a great shot of getting on the list.

“I’m not too sure if I’m going to be able to go. It’ll depend on the timeline and how my shoulder is feeling. I’m not going to rush it just to get to the All-Star game, but if it allows me to take part, then definitely I’ll go.”

Nugent-Hopkins is the only member of the Oilers to receive an invite to take part in the All-Star weekend festivities, which gets underway Jan. 26 with the player fantasy draft.

The game itself takes place on Jan. 29.

“If I get to go, I think meeting a lot of the new guys is going to be awesome for sure,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “Meeting some guys that I’ve been watching for a long time would be awesome as well. The whole atmosphere of everything will be good.”

Nugent-Hopkins leads all NHL rookies in scoring this season with 35 points on the year, although he’s likely to be overtaken, currently out three to four weeks with a separated shoulder.

Last season’s first overall pick suffered the injury after catching a rut in the ice and falling into the boards.

“I’m doing some exercises with it, I’m definitely feeling a lot better,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “Hopefully I can get back sooner than later.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

@SUNdvandiest


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