2016 All-Star Game

Brent Burns calls upon his son for assistance in Breakaway Challenge

By Jim Diamond

There’s no question that the darling of the 2016 All-Star weekend has been Arizona Coyotes Montreal Canadiens St. John’s IceCaps Pacific Division captain John Scott. But San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns has made a strong charge for taking over second place in that category.

Burns showed up in Nashville a day early to tour the city with his family and soak up the atmosphere of the weekend. But in Saturday night’s Skills Competition, Burns put one of those family members to work during the Breakaway Challenge.

Four and a half year-old Jagger Burns came out of the tunnel leading from the locker room to the ice wearing a white Sharks jersey with number 88 and a Lil Burns nameplate on the back. Joe Pavelski’s son Nate accompanied young Burns onto the ice.

Burns gave the puck to Nate and the lads headed toward the net, which was briefly occupied by goaltenders Roberto Luongo and Corey Schneider. The former Vancouver teammates fake fought over who was going to face the shot before stepping aside and letting the young Burns put away his attempt following a drop pass from the young Pavelski.

“We practiced a little bit this morning,” Burns said. “We came out for the pregame skate. He and Nate worked on the drop pass. You get two kids under five, you never really know what’s going to happen, so it’s good to see it go off.”

The plan for the goal’s aftermath was for the two Burns men to pose for a picture together, but Jagger had a different idea and dropped his gloves and began dancing in the corner in front of a television camera.

Moves like Jagger? Indeed.

“That wasn’t part of the routine,” Burns said with a laugh.

Jagger stayed around after his goal, mostly skating around and hanging out with Scott. Burns and Scott have been teammates with both Minnesota and San Jose and remain great friends.

“I was teammates with him back in Minny before we all had monsters running around,” Burns said. “They are getting to know each other really well in the hotel room and we’ve been together a lot.”

Burns finished a close second to Montreal’s P.K. Subban in the Breakout Challenge voting, which was done via Twitter by the fans.

Subban won the fans over with a tribute to Florida’s Jaromir Jagr. Subban donned a mullet wig underneath a white throwback Jofa helmet along with a Jagr Panthers jersey and black referee pants.

2016 All-Star Weekend a reunion of sorts for 2003 draftees

By Jim Diamond

In the lead up to the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, held at what is now known at Bridgestone Arena, that year’s crop of potential draftees had pundits proclaiming that draft as potentially the best ever. In the 12-plus years since, those prognostications have proven to be correct. All 30 players drafted in the first round have appeared in the league, as have a large number of the 292 whose names were called that weekend in Nashville.

Six members of that draft class are back in Nashville this weekend for the league’s annual All-Star festivities. And the players who will compete at Bridgestone Arena in both the All-Star Game and the Skills Competition were not all high picks way back in 2003.

Depending on their date of birth, players are draft eligible starting as young as 17-years-old, so picking players that young is always a bit of an educated guessing game. Projecting how players will mature is at best an inexact science, but teams need to be correct more times than not when picking these players if those scouts and executives wish to keep their jobs for very long.

The Minnesota Wild selected defenseman Brent Burns with the 20th overall pick in 2003. Now plying his trade for the San Jose Sharks, Burns said that Nashville has a special place in his heart.

“It’s kind of full circle for us,” Burns said at Friday’s player media availability. “For my family, the first time we were here for the Draft, my dad talks about it being a pretty big blur. I don’t know if it was the beers or just the shock, but it’s really cool to be back here and get to enjoy it for a week. We came in a day early. My wife has never been here. It’s fun for the kids. Yeah, it’s definitely special to be back in Nashville.”

Corey Perry is the other 2003 first rounder named to the 2016 All-Star Game. He was taken with the 28th pick by the Anaheim Ducks, who traded up to get a second, first round selection. They took Ryan Getzlaf 19th overall.

“It’s definitely exciting,” Perry said. “You look back at how many years it’s been now since that has happened. It did start here. It was a crazy day. Anaheim trading up for the pick and all that the way it happened. It’s exciting to come back here, that’s for sure.”

Regarded as one of, if not the league’s best two-way forward, Boston’s Patrice Bergeron was a second round pick, going 45th. Back then, he couldn’t envision being an All-Star so many years later.

“It brought back some memories coming back here 13 years later now,” Bergeron said. “It’s definitely special. Looking back, I never thought I’d be here that many years later at an All-Star Game, so it’s definitely a lot of fun.”

Taken four picks after Bergeron, Shea Weber turned out to be a decent value pick for the Predators. Weber was the third defenseman taken by the Predators that draft, following the picks of Ryan Suter and Kevin Klein.

For a couple of players who weren’t even sure they would be drafted in 2003, their late selections seem like a distant memory as they both have developed into two of the NHL’s elite. Neither Joe Pavelski nor Dustin Byfuglien made the trip to Nashville that draft weekend.

“I was not here for that Draft,” Pavelski said. “I wasn’t really exactly planning on getting drafted. I knew if I did go, it was going to be late. It was the seventh round, so I was home doing whatever I was doing that day and having fun. Obviously it was nice to see.”

San Jose took Pavelski 205th overall, and the forward is now approaching 700 NHL games played.

Byfuglien was taken in a round that does not exist any longer. Chicago took the hulking defenseman in the eighth round, 245th overall.

“I got a phone call,” he said. “I was in the (eighth) round, they had nine rounds back then. I was at home and got the phone call. I had no idea. I knew my name was out there, but if I did, I was happy. If not, I guess I would still have been happy.”

Keeping it all in perspective, Byfuglien, now with the Winnipeg Jets, reflected back on the long road he took to becoming an NHL All-Star.

“It’s been a long journey and I’m sitting here now,” he said with a smile. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what round you go, it’s what you do when you put on the gear and go on the ice. “

Predicting the Central Division’s All-Star Team

By Jim Diamond

When the NHL and NHLPA announced the new format for the upcoming All-Star game to be held in Nashville in late January, it was announced that the rosters for the teams that represent each division would be made up of six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies for the 3-on-3 division vs. division tournament.

Another big wrinkle for the roster is that each team has to be represented at least once. For the Western Conference, that means the 11 roster spots are to be spread among the seven teams in each division. It is a little tougher in the Eastern Conference, where each division has eight teams.

The NHL will host a fan vote, which will select one player from each division to be named to the All-Star Game. The player who wins the fan vote in each division will be named that team’s captain. A conspiracy theorist might suggest that there is a great chance that Shea Weber may be the Central’s leading vote-getter.

Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber. (Jim Diamond/Rinkside Report)

Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber. (Jim Diamond/Rinkside Report)

Using the league’s rules, here is my guess at the Central Division’s lineup. With the division being as strong as it is, picking 11 players is a difficult task. Many things can change between now and January.


  1. Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado)
  2. Patrick Kane (Chicago)
  3. Tyler Seguin (Dallas)
  4. Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis)
  5. Jamie Benn (Dallas)
  6. Blake Wheeler (Winnipeg)

Current omissions: James Neal (Nashville), Jonathan Toews (Chicago), Miikko Koivu (Minnesota), Artemi Panarin (Chicago)

They are all good, even the ones currently listed on the outside looking in.


  1. Shea Weber (Nashville)
  2. Ryan Suter (Minnesota)
  3. Roman Josi (Nashville)

Current omissions: John Klingberg (Dallas), Colton Parayko (St. Louis), Tyson Barrie (Colorado), Alex Pietrangelo (St. Louis)

Let’s call those listed as on the team as the David Poile/Paul Fenton blue line. Klingberg really deserves a place on the team, but when you only have three spots, tough calls are made. There is no chance of Weber not being there, and with the game in Nashville, Josi will get the benefit of any doubt, but he deserves to be there too.


  1. Pekka Rinne (Nashville)
  2. Jake Allen (St. Louis)

Current omission: Devan Dubnyk (Minnesota)

Rinne is a virtual lock. Right now, it is basically a coin flip between Allen and Dubnyk for the other spot.

Again, a lot can happen before the rosters are announced. Who do you have?