GATINEAU, Quebec – For the second straight year, the NHL split up its All-Star roster not by Eastern and Western conferences, but by picking two captains and allowing them to choose the guys they want to play with on Sunday.
Like an old schoolyard draft -- be it hockey, football or kickball – no one wanted to be the last man standing.
Last year in Raleigh, it was Toronto's Phil Kessel who was the final selection. He picked up a new Honda and a $20,000 donation to charity as a consolation prize.
Thursday night, San Jose's Logan Couture ended up being the final pick of the NHL All-Star Draft; a new car was also waiting for him. A $20,000 donation to youth hockey from the NHL and NHLPA will also be made in Couture's name.
“I knew it could happen with this lineup and these players,'' Couture said. “It's just awesome to be here and my phone is blowing up with people wondering what I'm going to do with the car.''
Boston captain Zdeno Chara, who started his NHL career with the Senators, had the first pick of the draft – he already had Toronto's Joffrey Lupul on his team as an assistant captain – and went with Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk.
Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson selected teammate Erik Karlsson with his first pick. Chara took teammate Tim Thomas with his second pick and let Lupul take Kessel with the eighth.
“I admire the way he plays,'' Chara said of Datsyuk.
Defenseman Brian Campbell is the only member of the Panthers represented at the Ottawa All-Star Weekend and he went in the 11th round to Team Chara.
Campbell will be reunited with former Blackhawks teammates Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane.
"I like this team,'' Campbell said.
Campbell is making his fourth appearance in the All-Star Game although this was his first experience with a 'pick-me' draft since his much younger days.
“This was fun,'' he said. “It brought you back to the backyard rink kind of thing. It was cool.''
Campbell, who grew up about seven hours away from Ottawa in Strathroy, Ontario, got his real start here by playing for the Ottawa 67s of the Ontario junior Hockey League.
Campbell got a loud cheer as he was obviously remembered for leading the 67s to a Memorial Cup in 1999 when he was league MVP. He has a large group of family with him this weekend and will be dropping the ceremonial puck at the 67s game against the Sarnia Sting on Friday night.
Although many of his teammates are having fun in the sun during this extended break, Campbell says there's “plenty of time for the beach.''
“I love it here, I played junior here,'' Campbell said. “This is something that in 10, 15 years I can look back and say I played on so-many All-Star games. I know the boys are having fun wherever they are, but I'm having fun right here.''
() Thomas, last year's playoff MVP, didn't elaborate on his recent White House snub after he was selected, although he said he “followed his [conscience]'' by not joining his teammates to celebrate their Stanley Cup championship.
Thomas put out a statement afterward writing “this was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an individual.''
He added that was all he would speak on the subject. He stuck to that Thursday although one wise guy in the crowd yelled ''yeah Obama!'
“We're here in Ottawa to celebrate hockey,'' Thomas said after pulling on his new blue All-Star jersey. “I'm extremely excited about that.''