Asked Friday which teammate should represent the Bruins in the All-Star Game later this month, one Bruin confidently responded, “Our best player is Tuukka.”
Then, after showering and thinking about it, the player came back.
“I change my answer,” he said. “Bergy.”
The player was correct – not for choosing Patrice Bergeron, but for being indecisive. With All-Star teams being named Saturday, there is no obvious answer as to which Bruin (or, less likely, Bruins) should be there in this tumultuous season.
The annual exhibition returns this month from a two-year absence and, aside from those making money off it and a shockingly high number of Latvian voters (big ups, Zemgus Girgensons), it’s hard to imagine that many folks have missed it. All-Star appearances, aside from the extra dough they earn the player, aren’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, as fan voting for six of the 42 players and the fact that each team needs a representative water down the distinction.
With the Bruins receiving few standout season-long performances, it will be interesting to see who goes to Columbus. The player folks should most want to see would be Zdeno Chara so he can defend his title in the Hardest Shot contest, but he has not performed to his level of seasons past and has missed 19 games this season due to a torn PCL.
The most popular guess from Bruins players was that Patrice Bergeron was the best candidate, with players also voicing their support for Tuukka Rask, Carl Soderberg, Chara and Dougie Hamilton. Multiple players expressed hope that Chara could go so he could put on his until-recently annual slapshot clinic.
Bergeron was a pretty obvious candidate in the 2011-12 season, but was passed over in favor of linemate Tyler Seguin. Chara, who captained one of the teams, and Tim Thomas were also there for the Bruins in 2012, the last All-Star Game played before it fell victim to the lockout in 2013 and Olympics last season.
This season, Bergeron’s play has dipped a bit from last season, though he leads the Bruins with 31 points and is on pace for a respectable 20-goal campaign. Given what happened in 2012, one could argue he is owed an All-Star appearance. Bergeron has still never been an All-Star in his 11-season NHL career.
If the NHL seeks a big name who has raised his performance this season, Hamilton is a good candidate. He has regularly played against opponents’ top lines, with only Dennis Seidenberg getting fewer offensive zone starts on average than him. Hamilton frequently led Boston defensemen in time on ice while Chara was out and is third on the B’s in average time on ice with 22:01. Chara leads the way, averaging 22:40.
Furthermore, Hamilton is fifth on the Bruins in points with 23, which leads Boston defensemen and is 19th among NHL blueliners.
Hamilton doesn’t buy it, however. He feels Dougie’s Big All-Star Game will have to wait.
“I don’t think so,” he said with a smirk when asked whether he felt he was having an All-Star season. “I think there’s too many good D in the league. I think I had a good start and everything, but I don’t think I’m an All-Star.”
When Seguin was an All-Star in 2012, he felt he needed to apologize to Bergeron. Hamilton said that if he were chosen this year, he’d feel there were other Bruins more deserving as well.
“I think with our team, we’re known to be a team,” Hamilton said. “There’s not one guy who puts himself ahead of other guys. I would probably feel the same way [as Seguin did]. Guys like Bergie — Krej was hurt and Zee was hurt — but even Carl, Loui and Marchy, the list goes on. For me, I’m just trying to contribute to the team and win some games.”
Well, someone has to go to the stupid thing.