RALEIGH — Eric Staal said he won't devise any selection strategy in advance, won't have a mock draft.
"I'm just going to wing it," he said Tuesday, smiling.
Staal, captain of the Carolina Hurricanes, now has been designated a captain for the 2011 NHL All-Star Game and will draft one of the teams. Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings will be the opposing captain in the Jan. 30 game at the RBC Center, it was announced Tuesday by the NHL and NHL Players Association.
The new All-Star format no longer pits the Eastern Conference all-stars against the Western stars. It will be Team Staal vs Team Lidstrom - hardly original names, but certainly installing Team Staal as the "home" team in the All-Star Game.
Even more intriguing than the game may be the new "Fantasy Draft" on Jan. 28. That's when Staal and Lidstrom - and few helpers - will draft from the pool of all-star players.
Staal's teammate, Cam Ward, will be making his first All-Star Game appearance. Surely Staal will want to pick him.
"He'd better or I'll never speak to him again," Ward joked Tuesday.
Then again, one of Staal's brothers - defenseman Marc Staal of the New York Rangers - also could be available. Could that present some added pressure for captain Staal?
"By him, yes, but I don't feel any pressure," Eric said, laughing. "I'm not worried about that too much."
Staal said he would jump at the chance to pick Ward, noting, "A lot of people in this building would love to see him on the same team as me, so we'll try to make that happen."
Eric Staal will be making his fourth All-Star appearance and was the game's MVP in 2008. Lidstrom, one of the league's elder statesmen and surely a future Hall of Famer, will be playing in his 12th All-Star Game.
Four alternate captains, two for each team, will soon be announced and will help Staal and Lidstrom make the draft selections.
The first six all-stars were chosen in fan balloting - Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins the leading vote-getter. The league announced the additional 36 all-stars last week, a pool that included Staal and Ward.
The Canes' Jeff Skinner is one of 12 rookies who have been chosen to participate with the all-stars in the Honda SuperSkills competition on Jan. 29 at the RBC Center. The rookies will not play in the All-Star Game.
Staal said league and NHLPA officials "called around" to the all-stars to get a feel for whom two fitting captains might be, saying there was no formal vote. He said he recommended Lidstrom.
Team Staal will wear white uniforms with the red trim, and Team Lidstrom will wear blue. With many Hurricanes fans in the crowd, many will be cheering for the guys in red.
"I think that was part of me being a captain here, that it's in our building in front of our fans," Staal said. "That adds a little bit more to the game."
Crosby's availability for the game still is uncertain. The Penguins captain has been sidelined with a concussion but told reporters Tuesday he was feeling better and there was a "slight chance" he might be able to play.
Staal said he hopes Crosby is able to participate, calling him "a huge part of this league," but said there would be no shortage of players to pick from at the draft.
"I don't think you can go wrong with anyone who is there," Staal said. "There's a ton of talent and a ton of great players.
"It's a first time for everybody, so we're going to enjoy it and have fun with it.
"I'm just happy because I know I won't be picked last."