Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog will join his linemates at the All-Star Game. He will join Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon, giving the Avalanche three players at the event for the first time since the 2003-04 season. It’s a bright spot for a team currently struggling to find wins.
Campaigning for Landeskog to Reach the All-Star Game
The Avalanche made a push to get out the vote for Landeskog in the Last Men In competition. They pulled out all the stops, going all-in to get the team’s captain in for his second All-Star appearance and his first return since his rookie season. The Avalanche public relations department went all-out in their efforts to help Landeskog get noticed. They printed signs, made buttons and used social media to draw attention, including the creation of the #GetGabeIn campaign.
Fans jumped on the bandwagon in support of Landeskog. Eurolanche offered incentives for votes, people made deals with fans of other teams to vote for each other’s players and the team released images of a a golden retriever wearing a Landeskog jersey interacting with the captain. The entire campaign carried a breath of excitement even though the team was struggling.
It has been 15 years since the Avalanche had three players going to the same All-Star Game. The last time was in 2003-04 when Rob Blake, Alex Tanguay and Joe Sakic represented the team. For Landeskog, it will be his second appearance. The first was a long time ago, back in 2011-12, during his rookie season when he appeared in the skills competition as the the team’s lone representative.
Part of what made the #GetGabeIn campaign fun was Landeskog deserves the honor. Anyone who has watched the Avalanche play know he has been the linchpin for the top line. He does the dirty work to open up the ice, fights for position in front of opposing goaltenders, stands up for teammates and wins faceoffs.
He’s fifth in the league in goals, with a career-high 27 so far, and he is tied for the league-lead in game-winning goals with seven. He set a franchise record for third period goals already this season, with 17 so far. He also owns a plus/minus of plus-18. It’s a far cry from two years ago.
Landeskog Joins Rantanen & MacKinnon For All-Star Fun
Landeskog’s contributions have shown up in other ways as well. His play has helped elevate Rantanen and MacKinnon to new heights. The Avalanche’s top line leads the league in scoring, having tallied 183 points between them. At least one of the trio has been involved in 92 of the team’s 151 goals. Even his teammates got in on the action to promote the vote.
Reason You Should #GetGabeIn: He’s really good looking.
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) January 11, 2019
The All-Star event will offer an interesting switch for the Avalanche’s top line. MacKinnon will be the captain of the Central Division squad, with Landeskog being essentially the wild card player and Rantanen playing the role of division points leader.
Rantanen – the feisty Finnish winger – currently sits in second place in the NHL in points and assists, chasing the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov in both categories. Even during the team’s scoring slump, Rantanen found ways to rack up points. It will be his first All-Star appearance, and with his improvement over the last two years, he’s earned the recognition.
MacKinnon is in a third-place tie in the NHL points race, trailing Rantanen and Kucherov. MacKinnon is also in a sixth-place tie among goal leaders. Voted in as the captain of the Central Division, he will be the first Avalanche player to wear the All-Star ‘C’ since Sakic in 2007. It will be MacKinnon’s third-straight appearance at the All-Star Game.
The ‘Last Men In’ All-Star vote created a lot of excitement, especially for devout Avalanche fans. It was a good public relations move to get fans across the world to work together to get players voted in and generate some buzz around the All-Star events. Who doesn’t want to see the combination of Landeskog-MacKinnon-Rantanen take on teams in the three-on-three matchups?
It’s only fitting that all three Avalanche players are heading to the All-Star Game. The top line in hockey is greater than the sum of its parts, and each of the three parts is pretty darn good in his own right. All hail the top line in hockey – long may it reign!
J.D. has followed the Colorado Avalanche since the days of Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. Blessed to cover the team for nearly 5 seasons, 3 of those at other venues, J.D. enjoys working with the Hockey Writers. Proud parent of three humans and two dogs, you can follow all the escapades @JDKpirate.