By Joe Haggerty
MARINA DEL REY, CA With Sidney Crosby officially out of the All-Star game proceedings after suffering a concussion at or immediately after the Winter Classic, its clear theres a spot to be filled on the roster of 40-something players taking part in the game. The NHL has already asserted that some of the top rookies selected for the Superskills competition would be the first choice as replacements for All-Stars too injured to take part in All-Star weekend in Carolina.But lets be honest here. Nobody is coming to All-Star weekend to watch rookies that arent quite ready for prime time skating against the best players in the world, and there are still plenty of worthy choices ready, willing and able to play that werent among the original crop of All-Stars. Pierre Lebrun clarified this morning on his Twitter accountthat only All-Stars pulling out on ThursdayFriday at the last minute would be replaced by rookies, so there is a chance that Bergeron could be included.Guys like Tomas Plekanec, Mike Richardsand Paul Stastny would be great replacement choices for Crosby, but the most fitting in this humble writers opinion would be Patrice Bergeron as he continues coming on strong this season. Bergeron has helped carry the Bruins offensively over the last six weeks and finds himself on a 27-goal, 67-point pace thats in line with his pre-concussion offensive numbers.Add to that hes Bostons leading scorer, tied for seventh in the NHL with a plus-21 and will again be one of the top contenders for the Selke Award as the NHLs best defensive forward along with the offense, and youve got yourselves one of the most complete players in the league. Bergeron is too classy, selfless and team-oriented to campaign for something individual like the All-Star game, but theres little doubt hes both deserving and interested if the NHL did come calling in the next couple of days.The NHL rookies will get their time to fill in and be All-Stars on their own, but the NHL should do the right thing and find worthy veteran players on track with All-Star seasons as injury replacements for those like Crosby that are unable to play. On to the links:
Three goaltenders is a crowd for the Maple Leafs, who need to start making some decisions and trading some players as the season slips away from them. Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has had it with his underachieving Senators teams, according to AOL Fanhouse, and hes ready to begin dismantling things this year with an eye toward a complete overhaul this summer. "Hi, Evgeni . . . this is Garth Snow. Hello? Hello? The epic fail that is the New York Islanders just continues to grow with each passing day. Patrick King does a great job with junior hockey for Sportsnet, and he comes through with a weekly review of players and teams for those of us that need a little schooling in junior hockey. RaleighDurham native Clay Aiken is setto sing the National Anthem at the NHL All-Star game in Carolina this weekend. Chaka Khan must have been unavailable. Elliotte Friedmans always great 30 thoughts for the week, including some rumors that Ottawa native Peter Chiarelli could be headed back to Ottawa if their GM positions opens up in the future. Interesting.