Monday - January 22nd, 2007
'99 Stars a reminder of glory daysJennifer Floyd Engel / Fort Worth Telegram
- If not for really awful bad luck, the NHL might not have any luck at all.
Take Monday, for example, when hockey's next biggest stage (second only to NHL playoffs in terms of sexiness) had arrived in Dallas for a Texas-style party only to find Bill Parcells had crashed.
News of his resignation as Cowboys coach wiped away a good hunk of buzz from Sidney Crosby's debut and what probably is Brendan Shanahan's curtain call and what definitely was a grand platform for showcasing this new-and-improved NHL.
No such luck. All things Parcells proved to be such an all-consuming presence that hockey talk had been pushed to fringes, prompting Stars owner Tom Hicks to joke, "I cannot wait for the Super Bowl to come to Dallas so I can fire a coach."
Or, at least, I think he was joking.
I would not blame him if he was only kind of joking simply because Owner Jones has a way of dropping his bombshells on days that otherwise might belong to others.
Remember how Charles Haley's signing coincided with a certain baseball All-Star Game? Coincidence? Hardly.
What is crazy is there used to be a day, not too long ago, when hockey captivated Texas sports fans no matter what else was happening, a day when hockey ruled Dallas or, at least, played a pretty good 1A to Cowboys football.
For a little while Monday, hockey P1s were transported back to those magical days.
In one of the best and smartest events of All-Star 2007, the Stars brought back members of the 1999 Stanley Cup-winning team. And few have forgotten that June morning in Buffalo when Brett Hull brought a championship to Texas. There were more fans there to greet members of that team than attended an October game against Vancouver.
Having them follow a Cup engraved with their names down a red carpet lined with thousands of cheering fans and, poof, just like that, hockey was back again.
Chants of "Eddie, Eddie, Eddie" welcomed goalie Ed Belfour.
A long squeaky "Ga-eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" greeted Guy Carbonneau when he was introduced.
Rivaling Belfour for amount and volume of screaming fans was Conn Smythe winner Joe Nieuwendyk. And fans serenaded Mike Modano with his customary "Mo."
Nor were players such as Sergei Zubov and Shawn Chambers and Darryl Sydor and Pat Verbeek and Brett Hull and Brian Skrudland and Craig Ludwig and Benoit Hogue forgotten.
Time has changed all of them, well, except for possibly Carbo. He looks like he has not aged a day and might be capable of playing. For everybody else, there were more wrinkles and grays and pounds and gaps caused by time apart.
Once they got back together, though, it was like not a second had passed. What players always say is there is something about winning a Cup that bonds a team for life, giving them stories to re-tell. Like when Belfour licked the Cup. Like when Hitch called them in for hour-long meetings. Like when Mo played with a broken wrist.
They are family. More importantly, they became a part of ours.
What made their Cup run special -- even more special than, say, ones won in Calgary and Montreal --- was how they grew with the Dallas hockey market.
They introduced hockey to this town. There is an entire generation of hockey fans down here for whom Newy and Skrudland and Belfour and Mo were hockey. Still are hockey.
"The football team was not going so well and we took up the slack," Verbeek said. "Now the Mavs are good and there seems to be plenty of football news and, well, things go in cycles. This is a good hockey team. What they need to do is get out of the first round of the playoffs and people will fall in love with hockey again."
It will be the Stars' luck that is the day Owner Jones chooses to retire.
A tip of the Cup to the '99 StarsMike Heika / Dallas Morning News
- The way Craig Ludwig drew it up in his mind, all of the 1998-99 Stars would ride into their reunion with the Stanley Cup on Monday afternoon on a pack of Harleys. An impromptu gathering of horsemen of the apocalypse banging their heads to the music of Pantera.
"But you aren't ever going to get some of those guys on a chopper," he admitted.
And maybe that's the great thing about the '99 Stars. They were a gathering of different personalities from different backgrounds who did different jobs.
Individually, each had his strength. Together, they were a force.
And when they got together again, the feeling of force was still there. There were a few more pounds and a few fewer hairs, as scrappy center Brian Skrudland said, but there also was the twinkle in the eye that never goes away.
"It was a special team," defenseman Shawn Chambers said. "I remember being in the locker room and being down to Colorado in that series, and we just looked at each other and said, 'We are not going to lose. It's not going to happen.' And you just felt it."
That same feeling came back Monday. Ludwig rode the Cup up to the gathering of a couple of thousand fans on the back of a Harley. Mike Modano lifted it up and brought it onto the stage. Fans cheered loudly for Joe Nieuwendyk and Brett Hull and loudest of all for Ed Belfour.
"Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!" came the familiar chant. And Belfour ate it up.
"Playing here in Dallas was a great part of my career, and the fans really got behind me and supported me," Belfour said. "It brought back all of the old memories."
The 41-year-old goalie still is doing a solid job, now with the Florida Panthers, and was a last-minute addition to the party. He was the only '99 Stars player who is playing elsewhere in the NHL to attend, and he had to make it after playing on Saturday in Washington.
The trip was worth it.
"It's hard to describe the feelings you have," Belfour said. "You move on, but it means even more when you look back. You have some special moments in your life, and it's great to get a chance to go back for a little bit."
When told that the fans were just as excited because they missed that euphoria from winning the Cup and going deep in the playoffs, Belfour responded in his matter-of-fact way, "That's because it's not an easy thing to do."
Winning any championship isn't easy. The Stars' victory in 1999 is the last one the city has seen. And getting a chance to revisit made the team's owner just a little bit hungry again.
"I feel a little like a proud papa," Tom Hicks said after soaking up the crowd that packed the area around American Airlines Center's south plaza. "It just makes it seem like it was yesterday.
"Some team owners have to wait 40 or 50 years, and I was able to taste it pretty quickly. ... But that doesn't mean I don't want to do it again."
At some point in the discussion during this reunion, current Stars Modano, Sergei Zubov and Darryl Sydor might start talking about the drive to grasp the Cup again – this time with a new set of names on it. But to do that, they might have to draw a little from the past, look a little at the leadership from that time and find that "special place" inside of them.
"If you look at what we had in that room, a lot of guys had already won the Cup," Chambers said. "It really meant a lot to us when things got tough. You knew that guys had what it took."
When the 2006-07 Stars get healthy, it might be a good idea to bring out some of the old tapes. History can be a pretty good teacher.
Tuesday - January 23rd, 2007
YoungStars game a fight to the FinnishChuck Carlton / Dallas Morning News
- Stars winger Jussi Jokinen's worst nightmare was being blanked during Tuesday night's YoungStars Game in front of his hometown fans. So he asked childhood buddy Kari Lehtonen of Atlanta, the goaltender for the Eastern Conference team, to give him an early goal.
He should have asked for two. Jokinen beat Lehtonen on his first shot but was denied with 31 seconds remaining as the East hung on for a 9-8 victory at American Airlines Center.
"I got the puck on my first chance and scored," said Jokinen, whose father, Keijo, traveled from Finland to watch. "After that, I had maybe four or five good chances. But he was a wall."
East winger Zach Parise of New Jersey was named the most valuable player, recording two goals and four assists. East center Phil Kessel of Boston, who had surgery for testicular cancer in December, added a hat trick.
But the East still needed Lehtonen's pad save on Jokinen's wrist shot from in front of the net.
"I think I got a good shot," said Jokinen, who has nine goals and 24 points in 48 games for the Stars this season. "He got a great save."
That led to the rarest of sports language: Finnish trash-talking, though good natured. Lehtonen and Jokinen grew up in different parts of Finland but have played together on national teams since they were teens.
"I kind of let him score," Lehtonen said. "He's been talking about, 'Let me score one,' the last couple of weeks. I tried to be a good guy and let him score."
The West trailed, 9-4, after Kessel's last goal. A pair of goals by West center Ryan Getzlaf of Anaheim led a furious comeback during which the West scored four times in 3:36.
The game – which featured 17 first-round draft picks of its 23 players – had a distinctly Dallas flavor. Associate coach Rick Wilson and video coach Derek MacKinnon led the West. Assistants Mark Lamb and Ulf Dahlen were behind the bench for the East.
Wilson admitted the four-on-four format took some adjustment.
"Four-on-four hockey in overtime in the regular season is highly contested," Wilson said. "It's just the nature of the event. It's four-on-four. It's very loose. It's very skill-oriented. It's hard on goalies." Three stars1)
Zach Parise, East: Devils center recorded six points and did papa J.P. proud.2)
Phil Kessel, East: Bruin's hat trick shows skill to go along with a gritty comeback.3)
Anze Kopitar, West: LA King led late comeback with Ryan Getzlaf. FIRST PERIOD
East leads 3-2
1, West, Kopitar 1 (Weber, Jokinen), :27. 2, East, Parise 1 (Vanek, Lehtonen), 1:32. 3, East, Whitney 1 (Staal, Steen), 3:35. 4, West, Jokinen 1 (Kopitar, Budaj), 4:30. 5, East, Meszaros 1 (Green, Steen), 9:47.SECOND PERIOD
East leads 6-3
6, East, Kessel 1 (Ranger, Vanek), :26. 7, West, Kopitar 2 (Smid), 3:35. 8, East, Ranger 1 (Green, Parise), 7:39. 9, East, Meszaros 2 (Steen, Parise), 9:22.THIRD PERIOD
East wins 9-8
10, East, Kessel 2 (Green, Parise), 1:57. 11, East, Parise 2 (Ranger, Kessel), 2:41. 12, West, Carle 1 (Wolski, Stempniak), 3:39. 13, East, Kessel 3 (Staal, Parise), 4:00 (pp). 14, West, Getzlaf 1 (Kopitar, Weber), 4:15. 15, West, Getzlaf 2 (Kopitar), 5:39. 16, West, Carle 2 (Stempniak, Wolski), 7:01. 17, West, Radulov 1, 7:51.SHOTS ON GOAL
East 8-13-6–27 | West 8-7-9–24.GOALIES
East, Lehtonen | West, Budaj.
Mike Heika / Dallas Morning News
Crosby dazzles in SuperSkills
- The shootout continues to be the most exciting revelation to come out of the NHL's post-lockout rule changes, and it proved a fitting finish to the NHL SuperSkills competition Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.
Pittsburgh sensation Sidney Crosby scored twice on three shootout attempts, and Buffalo's Ryan Miller stopped Anaheim's Teemu Selanne on two of three to lead the Eastern Conference to a 15-11 victory.
While the team results will probably be long forgotten, Crosby's moves will provide highlights for the NHL for months to come.
"It was fun to be in that situation," said Crosby, the second-year marvel participating in his first All-Star week. "I didn't ask for it, but I liked it, especially with all the ones that I missed this season. It was nice."
Crosby, who leads the NHL in scoring with 72 points, is 0-for-5 in shootouts in his career. That made his quick hands and slick moves all the more impressive.
"It was a made-for-TV moment," Stars goalie Marty Turco said. And that was perfect for an event that was pretty much made for television. The SuperSkills pits the players selected for tonight's 55th NHL All-Star Game in events such as fastest skater, hardest shot, shooting accuracy and puck control relay.
Andy McDonald of Anaheim won fastest skater, circling the rink in 14.03 seconds. Patrick Marleau of San Jose was second at 14.08 and former Stars winger Bill Guerin was third at 14:34.
"Well, I guess that proves I've still got it," joked Guerin, 36. "Maybe it was the fact I was throwing their skates around in the parking lot."
Stars defenseman Philippe Boucher had the third-hardest shot but the hardest of his career. He launched a puck 98 mph, following closely behind Zdeno Chara of Boston (100.4 mph) and Sheldon Souray of Montreal (100.0).
"I was really nervous, for sure," Boucher said. "But it was good, because it helps me for tomorrow."
Eric Staal of Carolina and Marian Hossa of Atlanta each hit four of five plates to tie for victory in the shooting accuracy competition, and Jay Bouwmeester of Florida won the puck control relay.
But the excitement of the night was reserved for Crosby and the shootout.
"I'm going to go out on a limb and say, yeah, the shootout will stick around ... just for a couple of years," Turco said. NHL SKILLS COMPETITIONPUCK CONTROL
Team: East (Daniel Briere, Tomas Kaberle, Martin St. Louis)
Individual: Rick Nash, WestFASTEST SKATER
Team: West (14.15 seconds)
Individual: Andy McDonald, West (14.03 seconds)HARDEST SHOT
Team: East (95.3 mph)
Individual: Zdeno Chara, East (100.4 mph)SHOOTING ACCURACY
Team: East (14-for-24)
Individual: Eric Staal, East and Marian Hossa, East (4-for-5)IN THE ZONE
Team: East (2 goals)SHOOTOUT
West 7, East 4ONE-ON-ONE SHOOTOUT
Wednesday - January 24th, 2007
West beats East in NHL All-Star GameBob Matuszak
- A scoring bonanza from some unlikely sources helped make the 55th edition of the NHL All-Star game quite a memorable one.
Brian Rolston, Rick Nash, Yanic Perreault and Martin Havlat scored two goals apiece for the Western Conference, and Dallas goalie Marty Turco finished with 12 saves to secure the win in a wild 12-9 win over the Eastern Conference in Wednesday night's All-Star game at American Airlines Center.
Buffalo's Daniel Briere garnered MVP honors for the Eastern Conference, picking up a goal and four assists. The five points were the second-most in game history, just one behind Mario Lemieux's six in 1988.
"My impression was that it was going to go to someone on the winning team," Briere said. "Then I saw all the cameras coming around, and I thought maybe I have a chance."
It was the first All-Star game played since 2004, with goal-scoring taking center stage. The 21 combined goals were the third-most in All-Star game history, and the most since 22 goals were scored in the Wales Conference 16-6 win over the Campbell Conference in 1993 at Montreal.
Boston's Zdeno Chara had two goals for the East a day after winning the hardest shot event in Tuesday's SuperSkills competition.
"That's what it's all about&score some goals," he said. "The fans enjoy it."
Western Conference captain Joe Sakic added four assists in his 12th All-Star appearance, setting the record for most assists in game history with 16.
Sakic, the MVP in the '04 game, also moved up the points list, and has accumulated 22 points in All-Star games, the third-most total.
"It was a wide open game and a lot of goals," he said. "I don't know what more you want."
Briere began the barrage with a goal just 3:38 into the game.
"It was good to get that first goal out of the way early on," Briere said. "After that you say, 'This is cool, I can just go out there and don't have to force my play.' I knew I could just make the easy and expected play."
Less than two minutes later, Phoenix's Perreault tied it just under two minutes later with his first of the game.
Anaheim's Teemu Selanne gave the West its first lead 69 seconds later when his wrist shot eluded Eastern Conference starting goalie Ryan Miller.
Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis and Carolina's Eric Staal gave the East a 3-2 lead, but Los Angeles defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky capped the first-period scoring by beating Miller with a little over a minute to go.
Those watching the game, though, hadn't seen anything yet, as the two teams combined for nine second-period goals, the second-most goals in one period in All-Star history, and the most since the North American and World squads popped in 10 goals in the third period in the 2001 game.
Minnesota's Rolston scored two goals on two slap shots and also added an assist to lead the Western Conference during the scoring spree, while prized Washington rookie Alexander Ovechkin scored his first All-Star game goal at 13:32 to cut the West's lead to 8-6.
Down 5-4 after Chara scored 6 1/2 minutes into the middle frame, the West rattled off four consecutive goals to take an 8-5 advantage before Ovechkin beat West goalie and Calgary Flame Miikka Kiprusoff.
Rolston's second of the game late in the second pushed the West's lead to 9-6 heading into the third.
"It was kind of crazy in the second," Chara said.
"The second period was good for us," he said. "At the same time, there's so much talent on the ice that you never know because it could go back the other way. But I thought we played well tonight."
Turco came in to play in the third for the Western Conference and made several sparkling saves, including stopping Ovechkin's wrister and Montreal defenseman's Sheldon Souray's slap shot.
Souray, though, beat Turco with a wicked blast from the left circle with 35 seconds left in the game to make it 11-9. The goal, ironically, gave Turco the victory.
"I got the win," said Turco, who was miked up during his third-period appearance for the "Versus" national cable television network. "That's why I let that last goal in, just so I could collect the win, be the goalie of record. I was on the ice when we got the winning goal."
Actually, Turco said with the hard-shooting Souray bearing down, all he could was hope he didn't get injured.
"I closed my eyes," he said. "If it would have hit me, it would have hurt probably. That's 100 MPH, that guy ripping it at you."
Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf finished the scoring with an empty-net goal with 12 seconds remaining.
Dallas' other representative, defenseman Philippe Boucher, got the start in place of injured Anaheim defenseman Scott Niedermayer.
Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby was held without a point, while Ovechkin had just the one goal.
"There were 21 goals, you think I would have had one," Crosby joked. "I guess it wasn't meant to be. I had a few chances, it just didn't work out."
"Next All-Star game, it will happen," Ovechkin said. "There were a couple of times I normally would have shot. But I wanted to play for the fans."
The game marked the end of the All-Star experience in Dallas, a nearly week-long event that celebrated the rebirth of the All-Star game after a three-year break. Next year's game will be held in Atlanta, while Montreal will be hosting the gala in 2009.Three stars1)
Daniel Briere2) 3)FIRST PERIOD
3:38 EAS D. BRIERE (D. HEATLEY M. HOSSA)
5:08 WES Y. PERREAULT (B. ROLSTON B. GUERIN)
6:17 WES T. SELANNE (Unassisted)
13:07 EAS M. ST. LOUIS (V. LECAVALIER B. RAFALSKI)
13:43 EAS E. STAAL (J. WILLIAMS J. BLAKE)
18:55 WES L. VISNOVSKY (J. SAKIC R. NASH)SECOND PERIOD
West leads 9-3
2:41 WES P. MARLEAU (J. CHEECHOO N. LIDSTROM)
5:19 EAS J. WILLIAMS (J. BLAKE)
6:29 EAS Z. CHARA (D. BRIERE B. RAFALSKI)
8:30 WES B. ROLSTON (Unassisted)
10:40 WES R. NASH (J. SAKIC D. PHANEUF)
11:34 WES M. HAVLAT (J. SAKIC R. NASH)
12:47 WES Y. PERREAULT (B. GUERIN B. ROLSTON)
13:32 EAS A. OVECHKIN (D. BRIERE S. SOURAY)
18:58 WES B. ROLSTON (E. JOVANOVSKI)THIRD PERIOD
West wins 12-9
2:01 EAS D. HEATLEY (D. BRIERE M. HOSSA)
7:12 WES R. NASH (J. SAKIC M. HAVLAT)
10:37 EAS Z. CHARA (M. HOSSA D. BRIERE)
19:00 WES M. HAVLAT (R. SMYTH E. JOVANOVSKI)
19:25 EAS S. SOURAY (M. HOSSA D. HEATLEY)
19:48 WES D. PHANEUF (L. VISNOVSKY)SHOTS ON GOAL
East 12-11-15-38 | West 12-16-11-39GOALIES
East, 1st-Miller 2nd-Brodeur 3rd-Huet | West, 1st-Luongo 2nd-Kiprusoff 3rd-Turco