The NHL has announced the candidates in the fan vote for the All-Star game, voting for which opens on Monday.
It's a list of some...truly interesting candidates, like the currently injured Marian Hossa, the rather wretched Marc-Andre Fleury, and Ilya Kovalchuk, who I suppose is the All Star equivalent of the pity vote at this point. Maybe he'll get Mr. Congeniality, if he doesn't lose it before he gets past the circles.
That said, unlike most years where Blue Jackets fans had one choice (Rick Nash), the NHL has seen fit to grant Columbus two candidates...and while he is quite unexpected, I feel that we, the Army of The Ohio, need to get off our virtual asses and vote early and often for R.J. Umberger.
Since joining the team, Umberger has worked hard to be a leader on and off the ice, and was recognized with the assistant captaincy last year. He set a personal record for goals in the team's playoff season, then broke his personal points record in 2009-2010.
This year, Umberger has shown signs of improving his defensive play, and has show himself to be a shorthanded threat, including his game winning shorty against the Wild.
Really, though, this comes down to the fact that Umberger is a guy who will never have the flashiest moves or hardest shot, but he works like crazy every day, in practice or in game situations. He was one of the bright spots on the team during a wretched year last season, and he has been one of the players who wasn't afraid to get in front of the room or the cameras and tell it like it is.
A lot of people in Columbus made Umberger their favorite Jacket the day he was traded to Columbus simply because he was a product of OSU. Since then, he's earned a lot more fans because of his heart.
Fan voting for Forwards begins 11/15 and will run through 11/29. Fans will be able to vote for up to three forwards a day at NHL.com or the NHL Facebook page.
So, as I said, our mission is clear. Vote for passion. Vote for hard work. Vote for dedication. Vote for the man who says "THIS IS OUR BUILDING!" and backs it up with his fists.