Critics turn up volume, but fans turn out All-Star Game notebook

February 07, 1993|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

MONTREAL -- The NHL All-Star Game has been taking a beating in the local media and nearly everywhere else the league plays.

It's fashionable to knock the game because of its lack of physical play.

"Think of the NHL All-Star Game as a '90s kind of wedding," wrote columnist Michael Farber in the Montreal Gazette. "In these casual days, a wedding usually is as much a celebration as a ceremony. The old suspense is gone. The bride and groom probably know each other real well. Everyone is waiting for the buffet and the open bar. After checking out the bride's dress -- the equivalent of watching Pavel Bure and Alexander Mogilny for a few shifts -- the ceremony might be the least thrilling part of a wedding."

Tell that to the sold-out crowd that paid $111.28 per ticket, or bought from ticket brokers for as much as $250 each.

The only real problem with this game -- besides the fact that Chicago Blackhawks and Campbell Con ference goalie Ed Belfour, who gives up an average of 2.59 goals, couldn't stop a shot in the first period yesterday -- is in the selection of the all-star players.

Choosing players often seems more political than talent-based. How else to explain the Ottawa Senators, with six wins, having two players on the all-star team, while the Vancouver Canucks, with the fourth-best record in the league at 30-15-8, having only one?

Record Oates

Adam Oates handed out four assists in the first period to establish an All-Star record for assists in one period. Mark Messier held the old record with three in 1983.

The big hook

Former Chicago Blackhawks coach Mike Keenan, coaching the Campbell stars yesterday, faced a room full of laughter after the first period, his team down 6-0.

"They were laughing because they were so surprised I hadn't pulled Eddie [Belfour, Blackhawks goalie]," said Keenan, known for his willingness to send out the hook. "The players said I wrecked all the betting."

Deadly dull all-stars?

It's a matter of opinion. Wayne Gretzky suggested: "Maybe we should look at all-stars from North America vs. all-stars from Europe. Picking the best players from the NHL whether North American or European, versus the best players from European teams."

But Wales coach Scotty Bowman said it wouldn't make any difference.

"Our All-Star Game suffers from the same problems every other pro league's all-star game suffers from. You can't ask guys to come in here and play the way they do in a regular game. Because of that, we get a more skillful game, a lot like the European style game."

Bare-headed Hull

Brett Hull played without a helmet yesterday for the first time in his career. Hull said the helmet issued to him was too small. When asked how he felt, about all he'd say was, "It takes a certain mentality."

Dad's OK

Mike Gartner's 8-year-old son Josh had his perspective on his father after he won the MVP award.

"I felt really happy for him," Josh said. "You know what? I don't always think he's going to score so much. I think he got just got lucky."

When this was relayed to Belfour, who gave up a hat trick and assist to Gartner, he smiled.

"He's right. But he didn't finish the sentence," Belfour said. "You have to be good to be lucky."

Bowman top guy

Bowman became the first coach in NHL history to be in 10 All-Star Games. Bowman passes the mark of nine he shared with Toe Blake.

Standing 'O'

Mario Lemieux, the NHL's leading scorer who is under treatment for Hodgkin's disease, was given an honorary jersey before yesterday's game. He received a standing ovation as he pulled No. 66 with the captain's "C" over his head.

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