The 2019 National Hockey League All-Star Game will be held on January 26 in San Jose, home of the Sharks. The format will be nearly identical to that of the past few years—with the notable exception of a Friday/Saturday schedule instead of a Saturday/Sunday—and that means the selection of an All-Star team for each division. The Skills Competition will take place on Friday, January 25 and then these four teams will faceoff in a three-game single-elimination tournament of three-on-three hockey the next day.
Fan voting is already open for the captains of each divisional All-Star Team at NHL.com. This time around, the league has pre-selected a handful of candidates from each team, though write-in selections are still available. Fans are allowed to vote a maximum of ten times every 24 hours, but that means that Vancouver Canucks supporters only have one voting period left to push for their favourite candidates’ selection as voting closes at midnight on December 23.
This year, we encourage Canucks fans to throw their support behind Bo Horvat for the captaincy of the Pacific Division All-Stars. We’ll get to the reasons in a moment, but first we’ll take a look at the other worthy candidates.
Other Candidates Worthy Of Your Vote
In a contextless vacuum, Pettersson is clearly the Canuck most worthy of a trip to the All-Star Game this year. He’s not only the team’s leading scorer—and the top-scoring rookie in the league by a big country mile—but he’s also a legitimate contender for the title of “Most Exciting Player in the NHL.” Pettersson is the seventh-highest scorer in the Pacific Division this season, but his points-per-game rate trails just Connor McDavid, Johnny Gaudreau, Leon Draisaitl, and Matthew Tkachuk.
With all that being said, however, there’s little doubt that Pettersson will be selected for the Pacific Division All-Star Team whether the fans vote him in or not. That allows Vancouver fans to make a more strategic choice when voting, and they can feel confident that at least one Canuck will be headed to San Jose.
Boeser really seems to personify the concept of an All-Star—just look at the guy!—but it’s arguable that he hasn’t earned a spot on the Pacific Division Team in his sophomore season. Though his scoring has dramatically picked up in recent weeks, he’s still playing under a point-per-game pace—something that nine other players in the Pacific Division are maintaining thus far.
Boeser’s slow and interrupted start to the season can definitely be blamed on his injury woes, but his health is also the main reason why Vancouver fans should want him to avoid the All-Star Game. Boeser is finally at full strength and his play is reflecting that, but it’s probably still a good idea for him to take the weekend off.
Virtanen was not selected by the NHL as a pre-approved candidate for All-Star voting, which makes him a write-in candidate—and a longshot at best. While it would be fun for Canucks fans to run a #ShotgunJakeForAllStar campaign, it’s too late in the game for that. Maybe next year.
If Vancouver fans are going to vote for a non-Canuck to be captain of the Pacific Division All-Stars, it should probably be Joe Thornton. The formerly-bearded Big Joe has long been a popular character around the league, even in Vancouver—despite the fact he once put his finger in Henrik Sedin’s face.
With the All-Star Game in San Jose and Thornton likely in the midst of his final season, he’s definitely the sentimental choice for Pacific Division captain.
McDavid is the top scorer and the best player in the Pacific Division, and he’ll probably serve as captain of the Pacific Division All-Stars multiple times throughout his career. But the guy gets enough accolades as it is, so there’s no reason whatsoever for fans of the Vancouver Canucks to vote for him this time around—especially with multiple Canucks also deserving of a trip to San Jose.
Does Horvat Deserve It?
From a purely statistical point-of-view, Horvat probably doesn’t deserve a spot on the Pacific Division All-Stars. Though he is tied for tenth among division scorers with 34 points, his point-per-game rate ranks significantly lower—and he’s not even the leading scorer on his own team. With only nine skaters selected to each All-Star Team, there’s really no stat that justifies Horvat making the cut.
That being said, it’s hard to argue that any other player in the Pacific Division has been as important to their team as Horvat has been to Vancouver this year—with the obvious exception of Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Connor McDavids.
Mark Giordano is in the midst of an MVP-worthy season in Calgary, but he’s surrounded by a bunch of other players having career years. Horvat carried the Canucks through a period in which both Pettersson and Boeser were injured, and he did so with aplomb. Since the dynamic duo have returned, they’ve been blessed with generous offensive zone starts and a perfect complement in Josh Leivo—while Horvat toils in the D-zone with less-than-ideal wingers. Elias and Brock have lit it up on the powerplay, but Horvat has also been a big part of that special teams success.
In other words, just about every positive thing about the Vancouver Canucks in 2018/19 leads back to one player—Bo Horvat. And that’s why he deserves to go to the All-Star Game.
The Captaincy Question
Voting Bo Horvat in as captain of the Pacific Division All-Star Team would also allow the Vancouver fanbase to send a powerful message to the organization about their opinion of Horvat’s captaincy qualifications. What Horvat has done so far this season has convinced nearly everyone that he’s ready to wear the “C” in Vancouver, and a lot of fans don’t see any reason why the announcement should have to wait until next year.
Bo Horvat should be the captain of the Pacific Division All-Stars in 2019, and he should also be the captain of the Vancouver Canucks. #VoteForBo if you agree.