SUNRISE, Fla. -- Although reluctant to talk about it, Penguins general manager Ray Shero has been doing some behind-the-scenes lobbying lately.
Shero said he feels his team should be represented by more than center Sidney Crosby at the NHL All-Star Game Jan. 24 in Dallas.
"I'm not sure how many of our guys will go, but certainly with [Evgeni] Malkin, [Jordan] Staal, guys like that, we have players who can go," Shero said.
Crosby, who leads the NHL with 65 points, got word that he was a starter for the Eastern Conference and by far the overall top vote-getter Tuesday night just as the Penguins were coming off the ice from a 3-2 loss at Tampa.
Like Shero, Crosby is pushing hard for spots for his teammates.
"We will be well represented," Crosby predicted.
The balance of the rosters for the Eastern and Western conference teams will be announced by the NHL tomorrow afternoon, sometime during the Penguins' game at Philadelphia.
Malkin led all rookies in scoring before last night with 41 points, including 20 goals, in 38 games. Staal, 18, had 15 points and was fourth among rookies with 12 goals. He led the league with five short-handed goals and was seventh in shooting percentage (.211).
Malkin finished fifth in Eastern Conference balloting for forwards with 399,081 votes. The Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury finished third among Eastern Conference goaltenders with 346,530. He is 17-12-5 with two shutouts, a 2.89 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage.
If they don't make the main All-Star squad, Malkin, Staal and several other Penguins are eligible for the YoungStars game Jan. 23. Fleury likely isn't. In general, the YoungStars are under 24 and on their entry-level contract. Fleury is 22, but is on his second contract.
Crosby said he would be surprised and disappointed if he doesn't get to share the All-Star experience with other Penguins.
"It's fun for everybody to have our team supported like that," he said. "We have a young group of guys who are probably experiencing this kind of thing for the first time, so it's nice that we're all doing it together that week. We can enjoy our time there and grow from that, too."
It has been four years since the Penguins have sent anyone to the All-Star Game. There was no game last year because of the Winter Olympics. There was no game in 2005 because that season was wiped out by a work stoppage. In 2004, no Penguins were selected -- although defenseman Brooks Orpik and winger Ryan Malone participated in the YoungStars game.
It was 10 years ago that three Penguins made the Eastern Conference All-Star team. That year, Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and Kevin Hatcher made the team, but Jagr missed it because of injury.
This could be the first of many All-Star trips for Crosby, who garnered a whopping 825,783 votes.
If the Penguins are able to build something from their corps of young players, perhaps they can return to the years of having multiple entries on All-Star teams.
They will have a way to go to match the 1991-92 game in Philadelphia, where the Penguins -- coming off of their first Stanley Cup championship -- sent five players. Four were starters for the Wales Conference, Lemieux, Jagr, Kevin Stevens and Paul Coffey. They were joined by Bryan Trottier.
For now, the Penguins will be happy if Crosby doesn't go alone, even if a teammate or two or three goes to the secondary game.
"Even the YoungStars game, it's a great experience -- [Atlanta's Ilya] Kovalchuk, [Ottawa's Dany] Heatley, guys like that have played in it," Shero said. "It's great for them. It's great for the league. I'm hopeful that our younger guys get recognized. It would be a great step for our organization."
Shelly Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1721.