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Sabres' Girgensons, five Blackhawks the first named to All-Star Game

Zemgus Girgensons owes a big 'thank you' to his native Latvia as well as Buffalo Sabres fans for stamping his ticket to his first NHL All-Star Game. 

The second-year Sabres center will be alongside a bevy of Chicago Blackhawks, including forward Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, defenseman Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook and goalie Corey Crawford for All-Star Weekend on Jan. 24-25 in Columbus, Ohio. The six players voted in will not necessarily be starters, but are guaranteed a spot on a team. The rest of the roster will be determined by the NHL and announced on Jan. 10.

Winter Classic's poor TV rating is beside the point

​Girgensons, who has 11 goals and 20 points in 39 games, swept the fan vote with 1,574,896 ballots, according to the NHL. Kane was the second-highest vote getter, trailing by 342,695 votes to make his fourth ASG.

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The last All-Star game was played in 2012, with the 2013 lockout and 2014 Olympics keeping it off the docket. According to the league, fan voting was up 52 percent from the 2012, with more than 35 million votes cast. Over a quarter of those ballots came from outside North America, a mind-boggling increase of 7,000%.

Those international figures played a large role in Girgensons snagging the first spot, the story is only made better by the fact that he was half million votes short of equalling the entire population of Latvia, which is a little over 2 million people.

-- Anna Gallegos