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“I’m just happy to be here,” said Kessel, who acknowledged that the wait was nerve-racking.

He didn’t leave empty-handed, however. He was awarded with a new car, and a donation will also be made to a charity of Kessel’s choice.

The NHL invented this new All-Star format after five years of pitting the Eastern Conference against the Western Conference, following a run of North American All-Stars versus their World counterparts. There was no All-Star game last season because of the lengthy break for the Vancouver Olympics.

While this draft was really about fun and games, it wasn’t without intrigue.

Reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks seemed to be annoyed and perplexed when he was shown on TV anxiously waiting to be rescued from the crowd. His ordeal ended when Kane called Toews’ name with the 16th pick for Team Lidstrom.

“Everyone is saying that,” Toews said of his seemingly unhappy expression. “It wasn’t a big deal.”

Henrik and Daniel Sedin, identical twins from the Vancouver Canucks, will be apart for the first time. Daniel went No. 5 to Team Staal, and Henrik went right after him at six to Team Lidstrom.

Staal made his younger brother Marc, a defenseman with the New York Rangers, sweat out his time for a while _ leaving him on the board until the 13th pick.

He even added to the drama after Marc claimed during a television interview to be devastated to be passed over. When Eric began to make his 11th pick, he said “from the New York Rangers … Henrik Lundqvist.”

Staal readily admitted he wanted to rub it in a little bit.

“Yes,” Eric Staal said. “I felt a little bad for hesitating there and then saying Hank.”

Marc threatened to withhold future Christmas and birthday gifts from Eric before his name was finally announced, then softened once he joined his brother _ with whom he has never been a teammate.

The pair shared a handshake.

“We’re fine,” Marc said. “I was just playing mind games. I didn’t really care all that much. I haven’t played with Eric my whole life, so that will be kind of cool in itself.”

Though it was mostly lighthearted, this draft did have a few ground rules.

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