The Chicago Blackhawks will be well represented in the 2017 NHL All-Star Game.
The league announced Tuesday that Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford were named to the Central Division squad that will compete in the All-Star tournament January 29 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Hawks had the most players selected from any one team in the NHL.
Kane will participate in his sixth All-Star Game, while Toews and Keith will play in their fourth and Crawford in his second.
The surprise selection was Toews, who has seven goals and 13 assists this season.
"Most of the time I'd say it's an honor, this time it's a little bittersweet," Toews said following the Hawks' morning skate prior to facing the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center. "I have to completely admit that there are a handful of guys on this team that are definitely more deserving, especially this season."
Toews singled out teammates Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Marian Hossa as teammates who deserved it more than him.
"Why I got picked ahead of those guys based on performance this year I'm not sure," Toews said. Either way, it's good to see guys like (Kane) and (Crawford) get the nods for that weekend too."
Kane called being selected "pretty special. I think even moreso in the fact that you’re going to be going with a few of your teammates. We’ll be represented well there and it should be a fun weekend. I think it’s a lot more enjoyable, a lot more fun when you have your teammates there.”
Said Keith: "It’s always a special feeling. There are a lot of great players in the league that could go that aren’t going and to be selected as one of the few guys, it’s an honor and I’m excited."
The two-time Norris Trophy winner echoed Toews' thoughts on the Anisimov, Panarin and Hossa also being deserving.
"Absolutely," Keith said. "Especially with the season those three guys are having, it’s kind of unfortunate that they’re not going. They’re definitely deserving and luckily I’m a defenseman. It’s tough competition up there, especially on our team. There are so many great players and especially you know, even defensemen. I’m fortunate to play with great teammates, guys like (Brent) Seabrook, (Niklas) Hjalmarsson, Brian Campbell, the veteran presence Michal Rozsival is and the young guys like (Trevor van Riemsdyk) and everybody, (Michal) Kempny. The list goes on so I’m fortunate to be part of a group of players that make me play better too."
Sidney Crosby of the Penguins, Connor McDavid of the Oilers, the Predators P.K. Subban and the Canadiens’ Carey Price were previously named captains of their respective divisions.