The first batch of NHL All-Stars has a distinct Windy City feel as five members of the Chicago Blackhawks are among the initial six selections for the midseason showcase.
Blackhawks forwards Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, and goalie Corey Crawford earned spots Saturday based on fan voting. The only non-Chicago All-Star in the group is Buffalo Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons, who was the leading vote-getter in the six-week campaign with 1,574,896.
The All-Star Game will be Jan. 25 in Columbus, Ohio. The remaining roster of players will be announced on Jan. 10.
Kane (1,232,201 votes) and Toews (1,217,210) finished second and third behind Girgensons. Keith (1,198,173) was next, and first among defensemen, and followed by Seabrook (1,016,992), who was sixth overall. Crawford (1,099,504) was one spot ahead of him to win the goalie vote.
Fans cast more than 35 million votes, up 52 percent from 2012 — the last time the NHL held an All-Star Game. Nearly 27 percent were cast by fans outside of North America — a 7,000 percent increase from three years ago.
There was no game in 2013 due to an NHL lockout, and none last year because of the league's participation in the Winter Olympics.
Veersteeg out a month
Chicago Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg will be miss a month because of a left hand injury.
Versteeg left Thursday's 3-2 loss to Washington after he blocked a shot with his hand in the third period.