NHL

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Other Jets were asked to play in all-star tilt

Kane got injured, Enstrom had plans

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OTTAWA -- The Winnipeg Jets won't have a skater in the NHL All-Star Game today but not due to a lack of trying.

"There's an effort to have every team represented whether it be in the (all-star) game or the rookie game," said NHL vice-president of hockey operations Brendan Shanahan. "Teams go through different cycles. Last year Edmonton didn't have a player but if you look at their young crop of players it's possible in a few years they'll be asking us not to take four of their players year after year."

Jets owner Mark Chipman travelled to Ottawa for the league's Board of Governors meeting and to take in the game. While he would have liked to see a Jets jersey on the ice he's not worked up over the absence and doesn't consider it a snub.

"It's just the way it is. It would have been great to have Buff (Dustin Byfuglien) here because I think legitimately he is an all-star," said Chipman. "But as (GM Kevin Cheveldayoff) said, we have an all-star but he's unable to play. That's the way it goes. There are lots of years for our community to enjoy having players in the all-star game."

Shanahan says the league knocked on the Jets' door a number of times.

"No. 1, a Winnipeg Jet was named and hockey operations made every effort to replace him with a Jet but injuries are something we can't control," said Shanahan. "We wanted to ask Evander Kane and he came up with a concussion. Then we went to Toby Enstrom and he had travel plans.

"It's a reality. Some players like Scott Hartnell cancelled his plans in a second. Others would rather have the time off. Everybody is entitled to get insurance on their flight to Cancun, or just continue on with their plans. I would respect either or. Everybody is in a different situation."

All-star game starters are chosen by fan balloting and the rest of the roster is filled in by the league. There are no hard and fast criteria to the selection process.

"We don't promise to replace a player with a player from the same team but we do make an effort," said Shanahan.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said he would like a player from every team at the event.

"We'd like every team to be represented but in doing that you might exclude some other deserving players," said Bettman.

Chipman was asked if the Jets and Winnipeg could handle an all-star game or other NHL event like the draft or a Heritage Classic.

"I think we could," said Chipman. "I think it's a ways off. There's a lot of people in line for it. But, yeah, we'd love to have an all-star game. We'd like to do one or more of these events but in due course.

"I think right now we're focusing for the next couple of years on being a member of this league and being the best possible hockey team and organization we can be. These things take an enormous amount of energy and resources."

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 29, 2012 B2

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