The NHL All-Star Game is, well, what it is. An exhibition, only it isnt even as good an exhibition as the Winter Classic.
But as an engine for perception, its about as good as youre going to get, and the perception of the San Jose Sharks at this moment in time is that the player the other teams would take first is Logan Couture.
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Couture was the Sharks sole representative for the game in Ottawa January 29, and based on the rest of the Western Conference, it is hard to see how (a) there was a better choice from the Sharks or (b) how there was an additional choice.
The format requires that between forwards, defensemen, goaltenders and rookies, every team must be represented, and here were the other Western Conference selectees.
Corey Perry, Anaheim
Jarome Iginla, Calgary
Marian Hossa, Chicago
Patrick Kane, Chicago
Jonathan Toews, Chicago
Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado (rookie)
Ryan Johansen, Columbus (rookie)
Jamie Benn, Dallas
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit
Jimmy Howard, Detroit (goalie)
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton (rookie)
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles (goalie)
Mikko Koivu, Minnesota
Craig Smith, Nashville (rookie)
Ryan Suter, Nashville
Shane Weber, Nashville
Keith Yandle, Phoenix
Brian Elliott, St. Louis (goalie)
Alexander Edler, Vancouver
Daniel Sedin, Vancouver
Henrik Sedin, Vancouver
Cody Hodgson, Vancouver (rookie)
And given the numbers and the every-team-must-be-represented requirement, it is hard to see how the Sharks could have gotten anyone else on the team. I mean, head coach Todd McLellan had his input, so it isnt like they didnt have a voice in the room.
But an all-star team is more a jigsaw puzzle than a measure of absolute value, if that helps you feel better about Joe Pavelski, the other Shark that had a worthwhile case to make.
In fact, this may be a measure of the 2012 Sharks as a system team rather than a star-studded operation. It has stars, true, but none of them are having exemplary years. It has veteran skill, but the Sharks continental reputation still does not glow as brightly as those of the Red Wings, Blackhawks or Canucks.
In short, they start and stop with defense. The Sharks have risen from a fitful offensive start to rank 12th in goals scored, but they are fourth in goals allowed, even with a dreadful penalty kill, and defense isnt sexy unless includes players like Ryan Suter and Shea Weber (Nashville).
The Sharks are completing, in short, their transformation into a system team. Whether that helps them in late January is clear it doesnt but April, May and June is the mountain before them.
Thus, you may seek out snub-worthy Sharks for your own amusement, and frankly, other than Pavelski youd have a hard time doing so. Even Marc-Edouard Vlasic, enjoying his best year as a Shark, isnt having the same kind of year as Suter, Weber, Yandle or Edler.
Thus, the logic of Couture and Couture only is as close to unassailable as any All-Star team can be. Couture is San Joses best version of the new, young, intrepid NHL star that the league wants to showcase (hey, Detroits Nicklas Lidstrom didnt make it, and hes the best defenseman of the last 20 years). If hes the only one, so it goes.