Thursday, 11 December 2008

KHL All-Stars

With all of his NHL experience in winning Stanley Cups, Art Ross Trophies, Hart Trophies, and setting all sorts of record, it was almost a given that Jaromir Jagr, pictured to the left, would be a KHL All-Star. He leads his team, Avangard Omsk, in scoring with 19 goals and 41 points, so having him represent and captain the World Team, aka Team Jagr, in the KHL All-Star Game seems fitting. He is, after all, a pretty big star in the upstart KHL. With the game set to be played outdoors in Moscow's Red Square on January 10, 2009, having the biggest names in the KHL attend will help draw fans and potential corporate sponsors - something the league can certainly use.

Captaining the Team Russia, aka Team Yashin, will be a familiar face as well. Alexei Yashin is Lokomotiv Yaroslavl's leading scorer with 27 points, and he will lead the Russian-born KHL All-Stars into the game against Team Jagr. Yashin is definitely one of the more recognizable Russian names, so having him lead the team is probably good for the game in Russia as well.

There have already been two players on both sides who have been named to the All-Star squads without having to endure fan voting. Team Jagr will have Marcel Hossa and Jakub Klepis dress for the game for the international squad. Hossa leads Dynamo Riga in scoring with 15 goals and 26 points, while Klepis is a teammate of Jagr's on Avangard Omsk, putting up 10 goals and 24 points. His ten goals are second on the team to Jagr, and Klepis is third in scoring for the Omsk squad.

Team Yashin will have Andrei Nikolishin and Alexei Kudashov in the lineup for the game. Nikolishin leads his team, Traktor Chelyabinsk, with 23 assists and 31 points. Kudashov is Yashin's teammate on Lokomotiv, and he enters the game with seven goals and 14 assists, good for third in scoring on Lokomotiv.

Like any all-star game, the game is for the fans, and fans are allowed to vote on who they want to see at the game. There are lots of players who are having solid seasons in the KHL, so this should make the game more exciting for the fans as well. Here are your current leaders in fan voting for either squad:

Team Jagr - Goalies
Ray Emery (Atlant Mytishchi) – 11,370
Robert Esche (SKA St. Petersburg) - 10,237
Rostislav Stana (Severstal Cherepovets) 2,928

Team Jagr - Defencemen
Ben Clymer (Dynamo Minsk) – 11,594
Kevin Dallman (Barys Astana) – 10,604
Raymond Giroux (SKA St. Petersburg) – 7,653
Magnus Johansson (Atlant Mytishchi) 6,915

Team Jagr - Forwards
Alexei Kalyuzhny (Dynamo Moscow) – 14,929
Jan Marek (Metallurg Magnitogorsk) – 13,958
Oleg Antonenko (HC MVD) - no numbers given
Pavel Brendl (Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod) – 11,850

Team Yashin - Goalies
Alexander Eremenko (Salavat Yulaev Ufa) – 10,973
Georgi Gelashvili (Traktor Chelyabinsk) – 3,934
Maksim Sokolov (Metallurg Chelyabinsk) – 2,915

Team Yashin - Defencemen
Konstantin Korneev (CSKA Moscow) – 9,177
Igor Schadilov (Salavat Yulaev Ufa) – 8,932
Vitaly Proshkin (Salavat Yulaev Ufa) – 5,978
Ilya Nikulin (Ak Bars Kazan) – 5,964

Team Yashin - Forwards
Alexander Radulov (Salavat Yulaev Ufa) – 16,060
Alexei Morozov (Ak Bars Kazan) – 14,781
Alexander Perezhogin (Salavat Yulaev Ufa) – 12,913
Daris Zaripov (Ak Bars Kazan) – 8,132

Unlike the NHL All-Star Game, which features one player from every team, the KHL All-Star Game appears to be solely for the best players on the best teams. Case in point? Team Yashin's voting, if it stands, will feature five players from Salavat Yulaev Ufa, the top team in the KHL. Ak Bars Kazan, who is #2 in the standings, will be represented by three players. Since the all-star teams will be made up of two goalies, six defenders and nine forwards, there may only be five teams represented on Team Yashin if the voting stays the course!

However, you can have your say on who should take part in the inaugural KHL All-Star Game... if you can speak Russian. Here is the link to the All-Star Game voting, and it's all in Cyrillic. I don't speak a word of Russian besides "nyet", so I can't really be of help. If anyone can translate the page, I'd be all for a handy little study guide in walking through the voting page.

What I do know, though, is that this game should be pretty good considering the names already on the voting card. Yashin, Jagr, Nikolishin, Hossa, Morozov, Radulov, Perezhogin, Brendl, Clymer, Dallman, Emery, and Esche are all former NHL players, so the game will definitely have a top-notch talent level in terms of KHL players. I;m looking forward to this game, and I am hoping that it will be televised either on mainstream TV channels or via an internet webcast.

Good luck to all those on the voting page, and congratulations to this year's KHL All-Stars!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

No comments: