Immediately after saying how honoured he was to be voted captain of the Atlantic Division for the 2019 NHL All-Star Game, Auston Matthews hit the nail on the head with his next comment.
“With the way it’s set up, obviously a lot of very deserving guys won’t be able to go,” Matthews said Thursday, following his first practice since Christmas with the Marleaus.
“We’ve had four or five guys who’ve made huge impacts night in and night out on this team: Mitch [Marner], John [Tavares], Morgan [Rielly], Freddy [Andersen] are all really deserving to go and compete in this game.”
As dominant as their individual campaigns have been, barring a series of unforeseen injuries or dropouts, we won’t see the Maple Leafs roll five-deep through San Jose on Jan. 25-26.
The NHL wishes that all 31 clubs send at least one representative, and the Leafs are far from the only team that should expect a high-profile snub as a result.
Joining Matthews are Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon and Alex Ovechkin as the divisional superstars nominated by fans via online ballots (the voting tallies were not revealed by the league). With the exception of Ovechkin, who referred to himself as the group’s “old horse,” the other captains all dressed as Team North America mates at the 2016 World Cup.