Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal and goalie Cam Ward were two of 36 players named Tuesday by the NHL for the All-Star Game, which will be at Raleigh's RBC Center Jan. 30.
Staal, 26, is tied for eighth place in the league in goals (20) and is tied for 14th in the league in scoring (41 points). He leads the Hurricanes in goals, points and in power play goals (7).
This is will be Staal's fourth-straight All-Star game, a franchise record. He was named MVP at the 2008 All-Star Game.
"It's an honor every time," Staal said Tuesday after the morning skate at the RBC Center. "You want to be recognized among the elite of the league. For me to be a part of that this year is an incredible honor especially being in our home building in front of our fans and enjoy the experience."
None of the players had been informed of their selections before the morning skate but afterwards Staal and Ward returned to their lockers with All Star jerseys hanging in them.
Ward, 26, ranked second in the NHL this season in total saves (1025) and has a 17-11-5 record. He has a .925 save percentage and a 2.55 goals-against average.
Ward won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2006, when the Hurricanes captured the franchise's first title.
This will be his NHL All-Star Game.
"Obviously, I'm pretty excited," Ward said. "You know it's pretty special to be recognized as an All Star in this league. ... Being my first All Star appearance, that's one thing. And to have it in your home building is going to be a special experience."
Ward has allowed 38 goals in his last 19 games and has four regulation losses in that span.
"I've been really happy with the way things have gone personally for myself," he said. "It's nice to get recognized for your efforts."
Asked were he would be taken in the draft, Ward laughed.
"I might have to vote in my good pal Eric Staal so I can hopefully get selected a little bit higher than if somebody else is choosing," Ward said, referring to the new format this year with two captains selected by the players before teams are drafted by the captains. "It's an interesting way to change the All-Star Game. ... It's going to make it more competitive, knowing that there are going to be some bragging rights among the captains. I don't really care what side I'm on. I'm just happy to be going."
Both Ward and Staal joked about how the All-Star Game is usually a high-scoring affair.
"The game's obviously a lot of skill and there's a ton talent out there," Staal said. "It's usually not very fun for the goalies, but it's still an honor. And obviously I'm sure Cam will get a lot of shots."
Said Ward, "I'm not really concerned about how many goals I let in. Hopefully I mix in a few saves. But I'm really just excited to be named."
Carolina forward Jeff Skinner was one of a dozen rookies chosen by the league to participate in the Honda NHL SuperSkills competition.
Skinner, 18, is the youngest player in the NHL, and he leads rookies league-wide in points (32), is second in goals (14) is tied for first in assists (18).
Skinner said he was informed by Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford.
"I got a call from Mr. Rutherford and he congratulated me and that's pretty cool and, I guess, pretty happy," Skinner said. "Pretty surreal, I guess."
Skinner said getting selected wasn't something he was focused on.
"I don't know that you're really thinking about that especially early in the season," he said. "You're just trying to make the team and just trying to contribute as much as you can to the team's success. It's really cool and really rewarding when an opportunity like this comes up. It's really exciting."
In all, there are 42 All Stars, but the league had already revealed the first six players last week. The first six were selected by fan voting, and the ballot boxes were stuffed by fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks.
Through fan voting, Pittsburgh will send forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, defenseman Kris Letang and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Forward Jonathan Toews and defenseman Duncan Keith will come from Chicago.
The full list of All Stars can be seen here.
Photo: CHRIS SEWARD - email@example.com