On January 13th, the KHL will host their fifth annual All-Star game at Cheylabinsk’s Traktor Sport Palace and two Washington Capitals players (that we wish were in DC right now) have been voted into the starting line-up by fans: Team West’s Alex Ovechkin and Team East’s Evgeny Kuznetsov. The exhibition, which is set to be played in Kuznetov’s hometown, will mark the first time that the Caps legend and his protégé have suited up against one another — well, that is if the NHL lockout rages on for another month. And if there’s a just and loving God, it won’t!
Despite enduring a prolonged slump for the past five weeks, Kuznetsov was emphatically voted in as a starter for the second straight year and nearly eclipsed the Russian machine in votes: Ovechkin recieved 31,935 votes while Kuzya got 30,248. Meanwhile, Evgeny Malkin was the only player to eclipse the 40 thousand mark, garnering a league-high 40,569 votes. I guess Biznasty’s PR campaign on his behalf worked.
Two former Capitals were also voted in as starters. Semyon Varlamov will man the pipes for Team West, while Sergei Gonchar was named to Team East’s first defensive pairing. Nicklas Backstrom, somehow, was not among the top ten leading forwards of Team West. Though I’m going to blame stupid Dynamo Minsk fans who got their entire team’s first line in the top ten of voting: Tim Stapleton, Joe Pavelski, and Teemu Laine.
Meanwhile, the next stage of the selection process involves Russian journalists, who will select each team’s second lines. That voting will go on from December 17-21. Then on Christmas Eve, the KHL will reveal the full rosters.
Below, I’ve included the graphics for the starters of Team East and Team West and the full voting results via khlallstar.com .
Team East Starters: Datsyuk, Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, Chara, Ryazantsev, and Varlamov. Team West Starters: Malkin, Kuznetsov, Kostitsyn, Nikulin, Gonchar, and Garnett