SUN Hockey Pool

A star, at last

ROBIN BROWNLEE, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

CALGARY -- No rest for the weary.

Ryan Smyth probably could've used a break to rest and let his fractured right thumb heal a bit, but the Edmonton Oilers forward won't be getting any time off during the NHL All-star break.

Smyth was one of 15 players added to the Western Conference team for the all-star game in Dallas Jan. 24, getting the nod yesterday for the first time in his 752-game career with the Oilers.

Rookie defenceman Ladislav Smid can likewise forget about a couple of days of rest and relaxation after being selected to play in the YoungStars game at the American Airlines Center the night before.

"Obviously, it's a great honour to be selected among some great players," said Smyth. "I'm very flattered."

Smyth, 30, leads the Oilers with 21 goals despite missing 10 games with his busted thumb.

While Smyth was contemplating a getaway to B.C. during the break and could probably use the time off, he says he'll be in Texas with bells on.

"To be selected for the first time, it's exciting," said Smyth, who faced the Flames last night with five goals and 11 points in nine games since returning to action with the thumb in a brace.

"With the way things (with the thumb) have progressed, I'm quite pleased. It's good to go. It's a great opportunity, a once-in-a- lifetime thing and you have to take advantage."

ALL-STAR DEBUTS

Several players added to the Western Conference roster will be making their all-star game debuts: goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff and defenceman Dion Phaneuf of Calgary, defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky of Los Angeles and forwards Martin Havlat of Chicago, Yanic Perreault of Phoenix, Brian Rolston of Minnesota and Henrik Zetterberg of Detroit.

Others named to the roster were: forward Teemu Selanne of Anaheim, defenceman Kimmo Timonen of Nashville and forwards Bill Guerin of St. Louis, Patrick Marleau of San Jose and Rick Nash of Columbus.

DESERVING, BUT ...

"A lot of times guys who are deserving aren't always named to the team," said coach Craig MacTavish.

"It's logistically very difficult to get everybody who is deserving to the game. We all know Ryan's deserving to be there. It's good that he was able to get the recognition."

SURPRISE FOR SMID: Smid didn't even expect to make the Oilers roster this season, let alone be selected to play with the brightest young players in the game.

"I'm so happy that I can go there and represent the Oilers," said Smid, who got the word on his selection at the morning skate.

Smid, 20, who joined the Oilers with Joffrey Lupul in the trade that sent Chris Pronger to Anaheim, has been averaging almost 18 minutes of ice time a night through the 41 games he's played.

"He's played well for a rookie defenceman," MacTavish said.

"He's played a lot of minutes. We haven't had a lot of guys who've come in over the years and played that much."

The lanky blueliner from the Czech Republic just missed three games with a sprained left shoulder and faced the Flames last night in his second game back in the line-up having scored 0-4-4.

Smid will be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Evgeni Malkin of Pittsburgh and Anze Kopitar of Los Angeles.

"It's not only my work. Steve Staios has helped me a lot with my game," said Smid, who'd planned a skiing vacation for the break. "I didn't expect this before the season."


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