Eric Staal, Nicklas Lidstrom chosen

Updated: January 22, 2011, 11:28 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Carolina Hurricanes forward Eric Staal and Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom were picked team captains for the NHL All-Star Game, the league and NHLPA announced Tuesday.

The NHL is straying from the traditional Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format this year, and among the changes are the way the teams will be formed. The teams are now designated as Team Staal (white jerseys) and Team Lidstrom (dark blue).

The 42-man All-Star roster was announced Jan. 11, and those players voted on who would be their captains. Now, Staal and Lidstrom will lead a sort of schoolyard-style "draft" to pick their teams.

The choices are somewhat of a surprise. There was widespread assumption that Penguins star Sidney Crosby, and possibly Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, would be picked as captains.

But both Crosby and Penguins defenseman Kris Letang said they backed Lidstrom as one of the captains. Letang added that he also voted for Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara.

"This guy is the man," Letang said of Lidstrom. "Totally another class."

NHLPA divisional player representative Steve Webb phoned each of the all-stars to talk about potential captains. Three names consistently came up: Lidstrom, Staal and Crosby.

"Lidstrom was a no-brainer," Webb said. "The first couple guys I was calling right out of the gate were saying Staal. I think they recognized with Sidney -- his name was always in there -- but they always added Staal with Sid maybe not being able to appear."

Staal and Lidstrom will select their teams in a live draft two days before the game, with a coin flip to determine who picks first. They also will set the lineup for the Jan. 29 skills competition. The alternate captains, still to be determined, will provide input during the 18-round draft. Each team will have three goalies, six defensemen and 12 forwards.

Staal said he would not strategize and have a mock draft beforehand.

"I'm just going to wing it," he said.

Staal, in his seventh season, also is the captain of the Hurricanes, the host team of the event, which will take place Jan. 28-30 in Raleigh, N.C. He is a three-time All-Star pick, and was a member of the 2006 Stanley Cup team.

Lidstrom, a highly respected player who has spent his entire 19-season NHL career in Detroit, has been captain of the Red Wings since 2006-07. He has won the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman in the league six times; this is his 12th selection to the All-Star Game.

Staal has a unique scenario in front of him. One of his younger brothers, Marc, a defenseman for the New York Rangers, also is on the All-Star roster. Will Eric pick Marc?

Marc Staal, one of 20 first-time All-Stars, has said he wouldn't want to play with his brother, saying, "I don't think I could handle being on his team. He's too mouthy."

Eric Staal, questioned Tuesday, laughed and said Marc actually has been pressuring him, despite the "mouthy" jab.

"He told me about it. I thought it was a poor quote anyway, but that's him for you," Eric said. "I don't know what he was trying to say. It'll be fun just to enjoy the whole weekend together."

Lidstrom is taking a slightly more thoughtful tack regarding the draft, saying he'll wait to talk with his alternate captains first.

"I'll see what they want to do," Lidstrom said. "You have to have some sort of game plan going into it. I talked with [Red Wings general manager] Ken Holland this morning and asked for some pointers."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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