EDMONTON – There was never any doubt that defenseman Brent Burns would be named to his second consecutive NHL All-Star Game, as he was on Tuesday. The 31-year-old is leading all blueliners with 39 points, is probably the leading candidate for the Norris Trophy, and has become one of the league’s most recognizable players due to his unique appearance and personality.
Like Burns, Joe Pavelski was also honored for the second straight season, and that was also not a tremendous surprise. He’s having another solid season with 15 goals and 37 points just a few months after captaining the Sharks to the Stanley Cup Final, and then serving in the same role for Team USA’s entry in the World Cup.
But for goalie Martin Jones, it’s a first. The 27-year-old will join Pavelski and Burns – as well as head coach Pete DeBoer – in representing the Sharks at the All-Star weekend in Los Angeles from Jan. 27-29.
Jones’ addition to the Pacific Division squad was the focus on Tuesday morning in the visitor’s dressing room at Rogers Place, as the Sharks prepared to face the Edmonton Oilers. The North Vancouver native, who went undrafted, is 20-13-2 with a 2.21 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in his second season as San Jose’s number one.
“I think Pav and Burnzie are givens. I’m glad Marty Jones got rewarded,” DeBoer said. “It’s a great story as far as the way he’s come up and not been handed anything, and worked for everything he’s got. Now he’s established himself, and is an All-Star. I’m very happy for him. It’s a great honor.”
Pavelski said: “He deserves it. Last year he was such a rock for us. … This year he’s been just solid. When he’s in net we have tons of confidence in him. He’s definitely at that caliber and at that level to be there, and we’re excited for him.”
While there’s a good chance the Sharks’ contingent will be the requisite players-who-get-booed at Staples Center in front of what is sure to be a Kings-heavy crowd, Pavelski was enthusiastic to be named again. He and Burns were a big part of last season’s primary storyline in Nashville when their former Sharks teammate John Scott was named as the MVP.
“It’s exciting,” Pavelski said. “Last year was our first one, Nashville did a tremendous job, everything with John Scott – it was a great experience. [Los Angeles] is right down the road a little bit, so that makes it nice just with travel and getting there. I’m sure they’re going to do a tremendous job.”
Last year was also the first of the three-on-three tournament between divisions, which the Pacific Division captured. Scott’s involvement aside, the format gave a boost to what had previously been a dull event for so many years.
“You could feel that every time it got down to the last couple minutes of the period or of the game, guys were a little more focused probably than in other [All-Star games],” Pavelski said.
“The second time around I think everyone will have a better feel for it.”
For DeBoer, it’s also the first time he’ll be part of an NHL All-Star Game. He was named due to the Sharks having the Pacific Division’s best points percentage at the end of Monday night’s games.
“I’ve coached in the league now for almost a decade and never really been close to that, so it’s nice to be involved in that,” he said. “But, it’s a team recognition.”
Edmonton's Connor McDavid will serve as captain of the Pacific Division team, which also includes Anaheim's Ryan Kesler and Cam Fowler; Los Angeles' Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty; the Flames' Johnny Gaudreau; Arizona's Mike Smith and Vancouver's Bo Horvat.