Found January 24, 2012 on Fox Sports Tennessee:
Buffalo_sabres_v_c627
NASHVILLE -- Toronto's Phil Kessel, sitting alone, grim-faced and unsmiling, as the final player selected at last year's NHL All-Star Fantasy Player Draft became perhaps the enduring image of the inaugural event. If Charles Schultz could have drawn Kessel a zig-zag line for a mouth, it would have been appropriate.Taking players with the pride of NHL All-Stars and having them undergo a kid's ritual for picking teams, with the humiliation of being last, brought a creative twist to an event that some say had grown stale and, if nothing else, a few hours of somewhat suspenseful television. In Kessel's case, it was probably a case of the wrong personality for the wrong moment.As players ready for Friday's draft this year, they seem to have taken Kessel's hard-learned lesson and embraced it. More than one has voiced the sentiment that he would not mind being picked last. Last year Kessel received an automobile and a 20,000 check to the charity of his choice to soften the blow.Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk said he wouldn't mind being picked last to get the vehicle and Chicago's Marian Hossa joked with FoxSportsTennessee.com on Saturday that he and one of the captains -- Boston's Zdeno Chara, his friend, former Ottawa teammate and a fellow Slovak -- could conspire in that way."I haven't talked to him, but I'm going to tell him to pick me last so we get the car," Hossa said, then let out a chuckle.It seems the moral of last year's fantasy draft is not to take it too seriously. With that in mind, the two captains, Daniel Alfredsson of host city Ottawa and Chara, represent polar opposites. Alfredsson can be playful on and off the ice. During the hey-day of the "Battle of Ontario" between his Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs, he cleverly mimicked throwing his stick into the stands -- an act that had previously gotten Leafs captain Mats Sundin, Alfredsson's Swedish countryman, suspended -- riling up the home crowd at the Air Canada Centre.In comparison, Chara is, as they say, as serious as a heart attack. Nashville's Mike Fisher was a teammate of Alfredsson's for 11 seasons and Chara's for six."Chara, he's all business most of the time," Fisher said. "I'm sure, having played together, they'll have a little bit of fun with it."To help Chara to have fun with it, the league made a wise decision when it came to his assistant captain, the Leafs' Joffrey Lupul. For one, it will give the hometown crowd in the Canadian capital two players to hate. Both play for Atlantic Division rivals, one the arch-rival, the other a former Sens player who left town and won a Stanley Cup. For the more than 97,000 people who follow him on Twitter, Lupul presents a colorful personality, whether it's mocking Tim Tebow or saying he forgot his to bring his beach towel to Buffalo with a photo post of what appears to be a frigid Niagara River. Teamed with Alfredsson as assistant captain is fellow Swede Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, a man who not only looks the part of a rock star off the ice, but as we learned on HBO's "247," someone who plays one off the ice, too.Fisher was asked for a minute to get inside of the captains' respective heads to try and divine which players they might pick. Looking across the locker room at Bridgestone Arena, he eyeballed the only two All-Star defensemen who play on the same team."Best tandem in the league right there, Webs and Sutes," he said of the Preds' Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. "Alfie's been in the game a long time, so you might see him pick some Swedes."There are four other Swedes on the All-Star team and three of them play for Vancouver (twin brothers Daniel and Henrik Sedin, both forwards, and defenseman Alex Edler). If Chara is wise, he might preemptively pick the other Swede, Ottawa's Erik Karlsson, and choose him as a defense partner to prevent himself from getting booed when he's on the ice.Another pick could earn Chara some grief from the locals. He and Lupul could make an early pick of Kessel, Lupul's linemate, to make up for last year's circumstances, not to mention that Kessel is tied for third in the league in goals. Fisher said there was a little bit of "discontent" among the Ottawa fans when Chara would return to play with Boston. (They shouldn't have. The Sens were maxed out under the salary cap and had already given a lucrative deal to defenseman Wade Redden, so it wasn't as if they could afford to match the free agent offer that Boston signed him to.) Fisher thinks all will be forgiven.Hossa, traded from Ottawa to Atlanta for Dany Heatley in 2005, is hoping for the same. He offered one way that would have players begging to be picked last."If it would be a Ferrari I'm sure it would," he said. "We'll see what's going to happen. It's going to be fun and I'm just looking forward to coming back to where I started and seeing lots of friends and I think it's going to be a pretty good time."We'll see if the last man standing agrees.
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