McCabe tops all-star balloting

MIKE ZEISBERGER

, Last Updated: 1:39 PM ET

MONTREAL -- Bryan McCabe was watching the Buffalo Sabres-New York Rangers game on the tube Friday night when a graphic appeared on the screen that caught him completely off-guard.

During a segment in which the Jan. 24 all-star game was being discussed on the TSN broadcast, McCabe's name suddenly came up on a list of the top vote-getters among defencemen in the Eastern Conference.

What surprised McCabe the most was the fact that he is leading all Eastern blue liners with more than 170,000 votes, putting him ahead of such notable names as the Boston Bruins' Zdeno Chara, the Ottawa Senators' Wade Redden, Dan Boyle of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Florida Panthers' Jay Bouwmeester, the Buffalo Sabres' Brian Campbell and Tomas Kaberle, McCabe's defence partner with the Leafs.

McCabe was shocked, to say the least.

"It's very flattering," the veteran defenceman said yesterday. "I mean, the only all-star game I've ever played in was in junior."

McCabe's legion of critics -- and there are a significant number -- will howl that he still commits too many turnovers to be considered one of the two or three premier defencemen in the conference.

His supporters, on the other hand, point to the fact that he entered the game against the Montreal Canadiens last night as the NHL's third-leading scorer among defencemen with six goals and 17 assists.

Either way, the voters are throwing their support more and more behind the Leafs' No. 24.

"It means a lot of people are voting for you," McCabe said. "I started off a bit slow but I think I've been coming on of late.

"Maybe playing in such a huge hockey market helps (voters) recognize you. And playing with such a skilled guy like Kabby certainly doesn't hurt, either.

"Actually, I've played in so many cities a lot of people should know me by now."

Prior to becoming a Leaf, McCabe was a member of the New York Islanders, Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks.

"Have suitcase, will travel," he said jokingly.


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