Chara named All-Star Game captain

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Chara named All-Star Game captain

TAMPA Zdeno Chara was alreadylooking forward to a returnto his former NHLstomping groundin Ottawa for this months All-Star game festivities, and now hell do it in the familiar roleas a captain.

The NHL named the Bs captain and Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson as the acting captains for the two All-Star squads set to play against each other at Scotiabank Place on Jan. 29.

That means Chara and Alfredssonwill be selecting individualplayers at the second annualAll-Star fantasy draft three days prior to the event, and the B's defenseman said hell take the responsibility seriously. Theres no salary cap and its all for fun, but Chara will get to step into the shoes of Peter Chiarelli and 29 other NHL GMs making moves and evaluating players for "Team Chara".

Its gonna be interesting. Its another honor on top of being selected as an All-Star. I found out this morning, so Im a little bit surprised, said Chara. Im going to at least try to see how it is to be in the position that some GMs are in, or people that are making those decisions. In thegroup of players that are being selected I dont think you can make a wrong choice.

Im not going to do too much research, but Im going to do the best job I can to build the best possible team.

It should be asatisfying homecoming for Chara going up against his former Ottawa teammate in Alfredsson, and playing in front of a Sens fan base that's treated him like an enemy since his free agent departure. It should also be interesting to see if the big defenseman gives Phil Kessel a mercy pick this season. It was Kessel, after all, who was the final player selected last year in the memorable first edition of the fantasy draft. It wasan All-Starmoment that could only be defined as "awkward" while Alex Ovechkin snapped pictures of him on the stage, and Kessel appeared to be searching for the nearest rock to crawl under.

Chara and Kessel had their run-ins overNo. 81s toughness and commitment to hard work while Phil the Thrill was in Boston, but the 6-foot-9 defenseman appeared tohave no qualms taking him on his All-Star team. And if Kessel turns about to be the NHL All-Star game version of Mr. Irrelevant again, then hell get another new car out of the deal.

I dont know. Well see how it goes. Somebody has to go last, said Chara with a smile on his face. I dont know if theyll have a car for him or something else . . . well see how it goes.The B's defenseman is, of course, referring to the new Honda car and 20,000 donated to charity that Kessel received last season for being the last player tapped in the All-Star draft.

If Chara and Kessel are All-Star teammates, one thing is certain: it will be a relief to the Toronto sniper as he finally wont have the gargantuan Bs defenseman knocking him all over the ice.

Report: Red Sox acquire Chris Sale

Report: Red Sox acquire Chris Sale

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The Red Sox -- who came away with the top starting pitcher (David Price) and top reliever (Craig Kimbrel) last offseason -- apparently have done it again.

According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Sox have acquired White Sox ace left-hander Chris Sale for four prospects. Two have been identified (infielder Yoan Moncada and pitcher Michael Kopech) and two are as-yet unnamed:

More to come . . . 

Vatrano takes 'step in the right direction' in return to practice

Vatrano takes 'step in the right direction' in return to practice

BRIGHTON, Mass -- The Bruins lost Matt Beleskey for six weeks to a knee injury this week, and now they’re hoping to get another winger back now that 22-year-old Frank Vatrano has rejoined the Bruins at practice.

Vatrano was wearing a red no-contact jersey at Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, but his presence along with the other players at the team skate means that he’s moving closer toward a return to the B’s lineup. While initial timetables for his recovery from foot surgery had him in the early January range for returning to the Bruins lineup, it appears that he might be at least a couple of weeks ahead of that initial expectation.

Either way Vatrano is happy to be back on the ice with his teammates after the torn ligaments in his foot wiped out his training camp and the first two plus months of the regular season for him.

“It was a big step for me today. It was nice to be out there with the guys for the first time,” said Vatrano, who scored a combined 44 goals last season for Providence and Boston in a breakout season with the B’s organization. “I’ve gone through the rehab and done everything I need to do to get back playing, so now the next step is getting back on the ice with the guys. I felt great, so now it’s just waiting to hear the news when I start playing again.”

While Vatrano is still a young, relatively inexperienced player with just one full year of pro hockey under his belt, the sense from the Bruins is that he’s going to help a team that’s currently ranked 25th in the NHL in offense. Claude Julien was encouraged by seeing him out there in the red, no-contact jersey that his teammates were chirping him about, and said that his level play at last spring’s world championships should give him confidence when he jumps back into a big role with the Black and Gold.

“It’s a step in the right direction for Frank. That’s the best way for him to get to the pace of our game because it’s going to take a while when you’ve been out that long,” said Vatrano. “I think his experience at world championships last year is a real blessing in disguise because he gained a lot of confidence there. I think that’s going to help him a lot more than had he not gone.

“He played against a lot of elite players last year, and he fared really well. I think he’ll be coming in now with some confidence, and we just have to sure coming in that we give him every opportunity to succeed by using him properly, and giving him a chance to find his game.”

That certainly sounds like the Bruins are preparing for a top-6 role and maybe some power play time once the young, sharp-shooting Vatrano is back up to full speed. That should be fun to watch once he’s ready to play, and ready to again unleash that shot and release that rivals anybody else for tops on the Bruins roster.