RALEIGH, N.C. -- When it was over, when Dan Boyle knew what round he would be picked (ninth) and which captain would choose him (Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal), the Sharks defenseman assessed his situation in terms of creature comforts.
"I get to be in the home locker room," Boyle said after Friday night's NHL All-Star game draft. "I haven't been inside it, but I'm pretty sure it's plush."
Veteran view. In every arena, the visitors' quarters are never as spacious, never as nice as those of the home team.
And in Sunday's game at the RBC Center, Boyle knows there's another advantage to being on Team Staal: crowd support.
"We're definitely going to have the home-ice advantage with the Carolina boys on our side," said Boyle, reflecting on the fact his new teammates also include two other Hurricanes players, goalie Cam Ward and rookie forward Jeff Skinner.
No matter which team took him, at 34, Boyle was enjoying the fact this was his first time being drafted anywhere as a pro. That never happened when he ended his college career, something that was pointed out when he came on stage to put on his white All-Star jersey.
"Sixteen years later, it feels great," said the defenseman who eventually signed with the Florida Panthers as a free agent.
The NHL established its lineups for this year's game by using a fan vote to pick the top six players,
then adding 36 others. At that point, two captains and four assistants were named and given the challenge of dividing everybody else up, one-by-one as if they were kids on a pond.
"Obviously we're all competitive guys," said Boyle, who was drafted behind six defensemen but ahead of three others. "Nobody's going to admit to it, but nobody wanted to be last."
That designation ended up going to Toronto Maple Leaf forward Phil Kessel, who stayed on script -- "I'm just happy to be here. It's a great honor" -- when Colorado Avalanche forward Paul Stastny was taken just ahead of him. Minutes later, Kessel learned the good news: By being the last player, he had won a hybrid Honda CR-Z and $20,000 that he planned to donate to a cancer charity.
At the other end of the spectrum, Staal won the flip of a puck that determined whether he or the other captain, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, would choose first, and Staal immediately grabbed Ward.
"Just the best player available, I guess," Ward joked. "Being a teammate of his didn't play a part, I guess."
Lidstrom may have surprised a few people by taking Tampa Bay forward Steven Stamkos with his first pick, leaving Washington superstar Alex Ovechkin for Staal in the second round.
The draft was designed to create more interest in an All-Star game that many serious hockey fans avoid because it lacks almost all of the sport's intensity. That strategy worked, and Friday night's event answered questions that had come up once the competing players were identified.
Will Daniel and Henrik Sedin be playing on different teams for the first time in their lives? Yes, they will, as Staal made Daniel the fifth player taken overall, and Lidstrom made Henrik the sixth rather than risk the twins in sync together against his team.
Would Staal pick his brother Marc, a New York Rangers defenseman. Eventually, yes -- but not until the seventh round and some staged angst as players clearly were into the light spirit of the evening.
As things played out, Boyle and Sharks teammate Logan Couture will have different rooting interests this weekend.
Though Couture isn't playing in the game itself, he is one of 12 first-year players here for the skills competition. The NHL divided the 12 into two groups of six, then named Couture and Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall as captains of each group, giving them the power to select which team each group would represent.
Hall won another puck flip that determined who went first, and he aligned himself with Team Staal, leaving Couture's group as part of Team Lidstrom.
In reality, that's where they would have ended up even if Couture had won the flip.
"I talked to the guys after every few picks," he explained, "and that's what they wanted."
Sunday, at Raleigh, N.C., 1 p.m. TV: VERSUS