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AROUND THE LEAGUE

Niedermayer elected to start

January 10, 2007|Eric Stephens

NASHVILLE — Fans overwhelmingly elected the Ducks' Scott Niedermayer to be one of the starting defensemen for the Western Conference in the NHL All-Star game Jan. 24 in Dallas.

In online voting, Niedermayer was first among all defensemen with 591,657 votes. Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom was second with 573,069 and will also start. It is Niedermayer's fourth All-Star game selection and second as a starter.

"The All-Star game is an honor," said Niedermayer, in his second season with the Ducks.

Niedermayer was self-effacing when asked if he was a fan favorite.

"I've been around awhile so people have seen my name," he said. "Good or bad."

Meanwhile, the campaign to get Vancouver Canucks defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick voted into the game fell short. Fitzpatrick, a journeyman with one point in 28 games this season, finished third with 550,177 votes.

Steve Schmid, a Buffalo Sabres fan who launched the campaign through his website voteforrory.com, saw Fitzpatrick as representing hard-working players who aren't stars.

The plan rankled many hockey purists, among them Wayne Gretzky, who said Fitzpatrick's selection would make a mockery of the voting process. Fans were allowed to vote as many times as they wished.

Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby was top vote-getter with 825,783. Buffalo has three starters for the Eastern Conference: center Daniel Briere, defenseman Brian Campbell and goaltender Ryan Miller. Washington forward Alexander Ovechkin and Montreal defenseman Sheldon Souray also will start.

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-- Eric Stephens

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