Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2010
By Jamie Bradley
The NHL announced on Tuesday that Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and teammate Duncan Keith have been selected to the 2011 All-Star Game. Toews and Keith joined Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fluery of the Pittsburgh Penguins as the six highest vote-getters in this years fan balloting.
Crosby received the most votes with 635,509, followed by Toews who recorded an impressive 407,676 tallies. Keith finished in fifth place with just under 400,000.
These six players will be joined by 36 additional All-Stars who are to be announced on Jan. 11.
Once all 42 All-Stars are chosen, the players will decide upon two team captains who will select their own teams in a fantasy draft reminiscent of a pick up game.
Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville and assistant coach Mike Haviland will join Toews and Keith at the event as coaches of one of the two teams. Exactly which team they will be in charge of, however, will be selected by a coin toss.
With this new "fantasy draft" setup, it's entirely possible that Toews and Keith could end up playing against one another, or against their coaches, depending on the outcome of the draft.
The NHL All-Star Game will be held at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C., on Jan. 30 at 3 p.m.
The Blackhawks signed Ville Pokka to a one-year contract on Tuesday.
The 23-year-old Pokka played in all 76 regular-season games for the Rockford IceHogs last season, recording six goals and 24 assists.
The Blackhawks’ defensive depth has already taken a hit this offseason, with Niklas Hjalmarsson traded to Arizona – Connor Murphy came here in the deal – and Trevor van Riemsdyk, selected by the Vegas Golden Knights, then traded to the Carolina Hurricanes. While the Blackhawks will probably explore free-agent options this offseason, Pokka could vie for an opportunity at training camp.
Dennis Rasmussen was not tendered a qualifying offer by the Blackhawks, a source confirmed on Tuesday. Rasmussen will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Rasmussen was coming off a one-year deal worth $575,000. He was expected to be among those the Blackhawks extended qualifying offers – the deadline was Monday afternoon – but he was not.
The 26-year-old played 68 games for the Blackhawks this past season, recording four goals and four assists. He gave the Blackhawks some options, as he also played some wing and was part of the penalty kill. But he was a surprise healthy scratch more often than not as the regular season continued.
The Blackhawks will enter this season without Rasmussen and, if Marcus Kruger is traded, the team will have some holes to fill at center.