SUN Hockey Pool

Fans vote in Iginla, Phaneuf

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

Calgary Flames fans have noticed Jarome Iginla's name near the top of the all-star balloting the past few weeks.

They were well aware it was a strong possibility he'd be named a starter for the NHL's showcase game later this month in Atlanta.

But Iginla insists he wasn't.

"I haven't (followed it) because when I first got on the ballot years ago, I was always way down on the list," admitted the always humble Iginla.

Yesterday, he received the big news. Iginla, who has gone to a trio of all-star game previously, was named a starter -- and he won't be alone.

Defenceman Dion Phaneuf, in only his third season, was also chosen for the game by NHL fan who voted.

"It's exciting, especially being picked by the fans," said Phaneuf, who was chosen for last year's game as a reserve.

"It's a real good feeling. It's an exciting day but you can't get individual recognition without the help of your teammates and I can't say enough about the rest of the guys in this room and how they've helped me get chosen for this."

It's the third time Calgary has had two players named to the starting lineup. Goalie Mike Vernon and defenceman Al MacInnis were in that position at the 1991 and '92 games.

They'll join a trio of Detroit Red Wings on the Western Conference's starting lineup -- forwards Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk and defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom -- as well as Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo.

Starting for the Eastern Conference are Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier, Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson, Montreal's Andrei Markov, Boston's Zdeno Chara and New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur.

The game will be held Jan. 27. The day before will be the Super Skills competition and YoungStars Game.

The rest of the Western Conference squad will be announced tomorrow, with the Eastern Conference's reserves unveiled Friday.

Iginla may not have been sure of his worthiness, but his numbers speak for themselves. Heading into last night's game against the Phoenix Coyotes, he was tied for second in the league with 32 goals and second in the scoring race with 60 points.

He's on pace for a career season, but been in a similar situation before and still denied a starting honour.

"There are only so many guys who get starting positions and it's tough for fans when they're voting on it. It's appreciated because it's a nice compliment," he said.

Phaneuf made no bones about Iginla's selection.

"He's had a great year, no secret to anybody in here or you guys," Phaneuf said.

"I can't say enough about how much he's done for the team. He's been a real leader for us. Night in and night out, he's been one of the top players, if not the top player on the ice. It's great he's been chosen."

The Flames could have a third player at the event. Kristian Huselius sat 13th in scoring before last night's action.


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