ST. PAUL - Sharks head coach Todd McLellan on Tuesday gave his first comments on being chosen as one of the coaches for the 2012 NHL All-Star game in Ottawa on Jan. 29.
San Jose has the best winning percentage in the Western Conference, meaning McLellan will join the New York Rangers John Tortorella and Boston Bruins Claude Julien as a coach for the game. McLellan and Tortorella will be behind one bench, while Julien and his staff will man the other as the defending Stanley Cup champion.
Its definitely an honor, but its an organizational honor. The coach is recognized and sent there, but its a team thing, McLellan said.
The Sharks, 23-11-4, have a .658 winning percentage, edging out Detroit and Vancouver, which lost to Florida on Monday night. Had the Canucks won, Alain Vigneault would have made the trip to Ottawa.
Now that its settled, Im excited about going, McLellan said. Had it not worked out that way I would have personally taken advantage of those days, but it is an honor, I accept that honor and Im excited about going.
The way the season has gone, youd be forgiven if you were surprised to see the Sharks own the top percentage in the conference. Even Dan Boyle hinted that the season hasnt gone as smoothly as the team would have liked.
When expectations are really high, people forget sometimes that youre not going to win 82 games in a row, said Boyle. You go through tough times. It seems like this year has been a frustrating, down year, and here we are were the best winning percentage team in the West. Its a long season, man.
McLellan is looking forward to working with Tortorella, who has guided the Rangers to the best record in the NHL.
I think hes a really unique individual and has some great ideas. It will be fun to spend time with him, he said.
No word on if theyll discuss Joe Thornton labeling the Rangers as soft earlier this season, after New York beat San Jose on Oct. 31 at Madison Square Garden.
The remaining NHL All-Stars will be named on Thursday. The teams will be chosen via a "fantasy draft" on Jan. 26.