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Toews a surprise All-Star along with Kane, Keith, Crawford

Jonathan Toews is one of the best faceoff men in the NHL, one of the top defensive forwards around, and one of the most respected and admired captains in hockey.

He’s also tied for 152nd in the NHL in points this year.

So Toews seemed almost embarrassed to be named an All-Star on Tuesday, joining Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford on the 11-man Central Division roster for the 3-on-3 tournament that will be held in Los Angeles on Jan. 29. The fact that Artemi Panarin, Marian Hossa and Artem Anisimov were left off the roster only made Toews more sheepish about his selection.

“I definitely think [Panarin, Anisimov and Hossa] should be there,” Toews said. “They’re at the top of the leaderboard in scoring and they’ve been carrying this team offensively, too. They’ve been playing so well. I guess you can only pick so many guys. I happened to sneak in there somehow. Not sure how.”

Jonathan Toews (left) and Patrick Kane are headed to the All-Star game, but Marian Hossa (right) can only watch. (AP Photo)

Toews has come on as of late, but has just seven goals and 13 assists in 34 games, far below his career averages. Panarin has 17 goals and 24 assists in 43 games, Anisimov leads the Hawks with 18 goals, and Hossa has 16 goals in 37 games.

With the league picking all the All-Stars other than the division captains (Nashville’s P.K. Subban won the fan vote for the Central), Toews’ selection is a testament to his stature and his career accomplishments.

“That’s the only thing I can really think of,” Toews said. “I guess it’s related to how I’ve played in previous seasons, not necessarily this one. And not necessarily who’s doing the best on our team this year. If it came down to that, we’d have a couple other guys representing us instead of myself. But regardless of who goes, it’s always an honor and when you’re there, you want to do the best you can to represent your city and your team.”

It’s also likely that the league wants him in Los Angeles for the unveiling of the Top 100 players of all-time, which is part of the NHL’s centennial celebration.

“Some of the top guys, they get asked to do these things a little more, but they earn it based on how they consistently play and represent our team, the league, and the game,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Jonny’s as outstanding a captain and representative to the Blackhawks as you could ever have.It’s not just a fluke he gets picked, because he earns it and does everything right.”

Of course, it’s the ultimate first-world hockey problem that the Hawks have more All-Stars than any team in the league, and the focus was on the snubs. The Hawks have had their issues this season and aren’t as deep at forward as they’ve been in recent seasons, but they still boast a handful of the league’s very best players.

Kane acknowledged Panarin’s absence, then said “You could throw Anisimov in there. You could throw Hossa in there. [Niklas] Hjalmarsson, [Brent Seabrook] — we could have a bunch of guys going. I guess there are only so many spots given.”

Crawford will make his second All-Star appearance. He has a 15-8-3 record with a .925 save percentage, stealing a number of victories for the Hawks. And Keith is fourth in the NHL with 28 assists in 43 games.

Kane was the Hawks’ lone representative in Nashville last year (Toews backed out last year with an illness).

“It’s pretty special,” said Kane, the reigning MVP who’s tied with Sidney Crosby for second in the league in scoring with 44 points. “Even more so in the fact that you’ll be going with a few of your teammates, as well. We’ll be represented well there, and it should be a fun weekend.”

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com
Twitter: @marklazerus