Are you sitting down? You may want to sit down. Because I have some shocking news to tell you. Brace yourself for what’s about to happen.
John Tavares was named to the NHL All Star team.
I know, I know. No one could have foreseen this remarkable turn of events. It’s not very often that a guy with 51 points in 43 games, who is among the top half dozen players in the league in both goals (22) and assists (29), gets selected to play alongside ten or so of the other best players in his division. It’s crazy.
Nothing in Tavares’ nine season NHL career pointed to this incredible event. Surely none of four previous All Star Game appearances, including his four goal performance in Columbus in 2015 that should have won him the game’s MVP award but didn’t because of an internet-only ballot known only to Blue Jackets fans and yes I’m still mad about this and will be forever even if Tavares is too nice to be because it was garbage.
Tavares had two goals in last year’s game, helping the Metropolitan Division win the four-team 3-on-3 mini tournament. In 2016, as one of the Metro’s captains, Tavares helped select who played where in the Skill Competition, and then went out and demolished the accuracy shooting portion of the event. He’s pretty good.
He’s a free agent at the end of the season, in case you didn’t know.
Okay, now for the more shocking news: Tavares’s linemate Josh Bailey also made the team.
Think I’m kidding? Here. This has not been Photoshopped by me or anyone else. His name is the first on the list (er, alphabetically. But still...)
Bailey will attend his first All Star weekend on the strength of an unreal season for him so far: He’s tied for second in the league with 38 assists and is eighth overall in points with 50. He set a career high in points last season with 56. He’s currently out with an injury that has yet to be fully disclosed by the team. But barring something long term, it seems like he’ll shatter that previous mark by a helluva lot.
Bailey was named the league’s second star of the month for December and was named a star of the week twice. It’s taken a long time, a lot of angst, a spike in confidence and some ice time next to Tavares, but the 2008 first round pick is finally fulfilling the expectations the Islanders had for him.
He’s also free agent at the end of the season, in case you didn’t know.
Congrats to both John and Josh. All Star Weekend is January 26-28 at Amalie Arena in Tampa.