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Jarome Iginla withdraws from All-Star Game for family reasons; Daniel Briere to replace him

Jan 19, 2011, 1:20 PM EDT

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Calgary’s Jarome Iginla will not be taking part in the All-Star festivities in Raleigh next week. Iginla has asked out of the game so he can see his ailing grandmother and the NHL was happy to grant his request. Taking his place on the team will be Philadelphia’s Daniel Briere.

Iginla spoke honestly about how family for him, this time around, is much more important to him than hockey.

“It is always an honor to be a part of the NHL All Star Game but unfortunately I have to decline this year,” said Iginla. “I just lost my grandfather in the spring and I have learned that my grandmother is not doing very well. With the way the season goes I don’t get too many opportunities to see her, and as much as I was looking forward to being in North Carolina for the All Star Game, I just know that my mind will be elsewhere.”

“My grandparents were second parents during my childhood and have been major influences on my life,” continued Iginla. “I have been blessed to have them. And so after talking it over with my family I thought it best that I use the break to spend some time with her while I am still able to do so. Thank you.”

Good on the NHL for giving Iginla permission to go.

Briere leads the Flyers in goals with 24 and given that the Flyers sole representative before this was Claude Giroux, you could say that the Eastern Conference’s best team could stand to use another player at the game.

Iginla is the only player representing Calgary at the mid-season exhibition and it’s likely there won’t be another Flames player able to participate in any part of the weekend now. Some fans may grumble about that but Iginla’s being named to the team alone is good enough to cover all the bases.

Let’s also give credit to the NHL for finding a sneaky way to make sure anyone who may have been snubbed initially finds a way into the game no matter what. Under the old format featuring the conferences, Iginla would have to be replaced with another Western Conference player. This way with players being picked regardless of what conference they’re in, anyone from that same position can get the call. In this case, the very much slighted Briere gets his chance to play in the game and stop crowing about how prior issues with the NHL kept him out.

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