Veterans show kids how it's done in Dallas
DALLAS -- While it was all Crosby, all Ovechkin, all the time leading up to the All-Star Game, and with good reason, Wednesday's results were a testament to the staying power of some of the game's more seasoned (read: older) players.
"Tonight, I thought some of the older players in the league showed their work. They were the strength of our game," Western Conference coach Randy Carlyle said after his overmatched squad bested the Eastern Conference, 12-9.
The West was led by Yanic Perreault, 35, a surprise addition to the roster, who had two goals, and Brian Rolston, 33, who also had a pair. Bill Guerin, 36, another surprise member of the team, rounded out the line and had two assists. Captain Joe Sakic, 37, had four assists, moving him past Mark Messier for most All-Star assists (16).
"We had some pretty good chemistry going," Perreault said.
Shanahan said they were teasing Crosby because the one goal the line did score came after Crosby had left the ice.
"You'd think with all the goals scored out there, I'd have been able to get in on one of them," Crosby said.
When he was told that Wayne Gretzky failed to get a point in his first All-Star appearance, Crosby said that was encouraging. "Maybe I'll sleep a little easier tonight," he said.
This game does mean something
These events, whatever the media or fans think of them, will always have special meaning for the players, especially for those involved in their first game.
For Montreal defenseman Sheldon Souray, his first All-Star appearance was enriched by the presence of three uncles and his aunt's husband, who drove 33 hours from Fishing Lake, Alberta, to share the moment with Souray.
"I said I'll believe it when I'd see it, and lo and behold they said, 'We're coming through North Dakota. We're coming through Kansas City. We're in Oklahoma.' So they showed up Monday morning. It just really means a lot to me that they were able to make that trip," Souray said.
Taking a page out of all good road movies, the four men made the trip in a well-worn 1999 Cadillac.
"They got in and [my uncle] said he was going to go wash it, and I said, 'You'd better not, it's going to show all the scratches!' Honestly, that they did that is just really a cool thing. And it's something I guess they're going to remember probably forever and it's something that's special for me, too," Souray said. "You never know if you'll ever be back here, and for them to share this with me, it's important... "
Messier: Sid one for the ages
Sometimes it's difficult to put into perspective what a player like Crosby means to a team, to a game. But a man with plenty of perspective on leadership, class and success, Mark Messier, thinks The Kid is one for the ages, even at age 19.
Messier, a future Hall of Famer, said Crosby has the kind of talent that transcends eras.
"He could compete and excel in any era," Messier said after he presented Crosby with the leadership award that bears Messier's name, presented periodically to recognize players who display leadership qualities on and off the ice.
The Gordie Howe era, check. The Wayne Gretzky era, check.
"And I'm quite certain of that, having played in four of those decades," Messier said.
One of the elements that impresses Messier has been Crosby's ability to handle the external pressures without losing his focus on the ice.
"It just seems to be happening so fluidly, so seamlessly," Messier said. "He has his own style, his own persona, his own way."
Messier sees a number of parallels between the early Edmonton Oilers teams he was a part of and Crosby's current team in Pittsburgh. The Oilers managed to assemble a core of young, talented players like Messier, Gretzky, Kevin Lowe, Paul Coffey and Jari Kurri, all within a two- or three-year period. They learned together how to win together, Messier said.
"I see the exact same thing happening there," Messier said of the Penguins.
The Oilers didn't have the salary cap to worry about in terms of keeping the team together.
"So the challenge will be for [the Penguins] to win it before that becomes an issue," Messier said.
If he has a word of warning for the Penguins, it's not to rush Crosby into the captaincy too early. Messier believes the team should let him grow up on his own a little before thrusting the burden of the captaincy on him.
"He doesn't need a letter for everyone to know that he's a leader on that team," Messier said.
We heard that!
A number of players wore microphones during the game, including netminders Martin Brodeur and Marty Turco of the hometown Stars. When the West scored to make it 11-8, Turco announced that he was in position to get the win.
"All I've got to do is let one more in and I get the win," Turco jokingly told broadcasters. Seconds later, Sheldon Souray blasted one past Turco. Purely coincidence, we're sure.
What's their line?
Part of the fun of the All-Star Game is to see how the lines turn out. For the Eastern Conference, coaches Ruff and Bob Hartley must have received some help from the NHL's marketing department when they put Crosby, Ovechkin and Shanahan together.
Still, we would have liked to have seen Crosby and Jason Blake together after their on-ice tussle before the break. Western coaches Randy Carlyle and Barry Trotz had a little fun, pairing Teemu Selanne and Ryan Smyth, who did battle during the Western Conference finals last spring. Then, there was Dany Heatley and Marian Hossa playing together. The two, of course, were traded for one another before the start of last season.
Remember ... don't get hurt
Want to know what the All-Star Game is like for netminders? Well, Brodeur is having one of the most dominating seasons for a goaltender in recent memory, but he managed to get lit up for six goals on 16 shots.
"You've got to be careful not to get hurt," he said. "A couple of times, I got myself to really stretch really high. I'm like, 'What am I doing?' It doesn't really matter if I get scored on for seven or eight goals. I just want to make sure I didn't get hurt. But when you're competitive, you have to be careful."
He did turn in one highlight-reel save, somehow rolling and stopping a point-blank Jonathan Cheechoo shot.
Scott Burnside is the NHL writer for ESPN.com.
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2007 NHL All-Star Game
After a lockout and an Olympic year, the NHL All-Star Game is back. On Jan. 24, the league's top stars will gather in Dallas for all the fun, including the SuperSkills competition and the YoungStars Game.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
What: 2007 NHL All-Star Game
Where: American Airlines Center
When: Jan. 24, 8 p.m. ET (Versus)
Other events: YoungStars, SuperSkills, Jan. 23, 7:30 ET (Versus)
• All-Star Game coverage
• Starters -- Final fan voting
• All-Star Game rosters
• All-Star Game -- History
• YoungStars Game rosters
• SuperSkills lineup/results
• Experts' picks
• Your picks? Vote: East | West