January 5, 2012
Sens hit all-star jackpotFans vote in four from Ottawa
By BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - The Senators won the Battle of Ontario at the ballot box.
And not only did fans vote four Senators into the NHL all-star game starting lineup, the Ottawa Sun has learned that Daniel Alfredsson will be named one of the captains for the Jan. 29 game at Scotibank Place.
Toronto’s Phil Kessel, who led the voting going into the final week of voting, was bumped out of the lineup.
Ottawa swept the three forward spots with Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek getting in. Erik Karlsson will start on defence.
They’ll be joined by Toronto defenceman Dion Phaneuf and Boston goalie Tim Thomas.
It was difficult for the players to hide their excitement after an outstanding final push by Ottawa fans.
“To have four guys playing in the game, it’s at home, and it’s really going to be something special,” said Alfredsson Thursday. “Jason, Milan and Erik have all had great starts to the season. If only one us would have been picked, it would have been tough because we’ve all played great. The fans did a really good job of backing us up. It’s great to have us all here.”
The rest of the 42-man roster won’t be named until next Tuesday.
“It’s going to be fun for us to all be involved, especially for Alfie. This is going to mean a lot to him,” said Karlsson. “He’s got a lot of family now and I’m sure he’s got a bunch of friends coming in as well. I’m very excited.”
The biggest surprise was Michalek, who beat out Kessel by more than 42,000 votes. He made a meteoric rise, trailing Kessel by 130,000 votes going into the final week.
“When (coach Paul MacLean) called us over, I thought he wanted to talk about the game (vs. Tampa),” said Michalek. “I thought the other three guys were going to be there. I was surprised. I was really happy that I made it.”
Spezza said it would be a big thrill.
“To be at home, to be with guys you play with all year and to be together is going to be pretty special,” said Spezza. “To have it at home, to have everybody come in and enjoy the whole experience will just make it that much more special.”
Like all good politicians, the Senators thanked the voters.
“It was an outstanding job by the fans doing the voting and getting all four players into the all-star game,” said MacLean. “All four players deserve to be in the game, knowing full well that some players who deserve to be there always get left out.
“Our fans really showed a lot of support for our team and our players. We’re extremely proud of the effort they put in.”
Judging by the votes, the feeling is mutual.