Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 01/28/08 at 01:07 PM ET
From Ray Slover at the Sporting News,
Young talent is, like cream, rising to the top. And like cream, it’s pretty sweet. They may struggle a bit with English, but Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Malkin, Anze Kopitar and other 20-something foreign-born players have a language all their own. Better yet, it’s a common language, one shared by Eric Staal, Rick Nash and the cast of characters who have something to say. And it comes across loud and clear, even without poster-boy Sidney Crosby on the scene.
We saw plenty of the NHL’s future here and it, like the Georgia morning sun, is bright.
From Ken Campbell at The Hockey News,
It has been very easy and convenient to rip the NHL All-Star Game for, oh, the past 20 years or so, but for at least one night, the league and its players seemed to grasp the importance of showcasing its stars by actually staging a competitive game.
Update 9:04pm ET: The THN story above was changed since I originally linked it. An important feature near the top of the piece was Campbell’s concern about access to Eric Staal after the game. There has been some suggestion that the original article was altered. Perhaps not a big deal, but it’s worth mentioning now because the allegations prompted this official response from Mike Sundheim of the Carolina Hurricanes later in the day.
Finally, below is a transcript from post-game Q&A’s with All Star MVP Eric Staal and goalie Tim Thomas.
Q. Eric, can you talk about adding All-Star MVP to a Stanley Cup at your young age?
ERIC STAAL: It’s a neat feeling. A little surprised, but I’ll take the honor. It was a great game, lot of fun. Obviously tons of talent on both teams, and I’ll take it.
Q. It actually turned into a hockey game. I mean it was 5-1 after the first, and then clearly the West bounced back. What did you see happening out there that it turned into a nail-biter at the end?
ERIC STAAL: I don’t know. I think it’s just the competitiveness of athletes in general. It got close in the game. Like you said, the last two or three minutes I was up-and-down the ice, a lot of chances both ways, and big goal by Savard there to clinch it for us, and we’ll take the win.
Q. When you get selected for a game like this, do you ever think about the MVP?
ERIC STAAL: No, not really. I think it’s just the opportunity and the honor to get here is enough. I think once you get here, you think about it. There is a car. I mean, it’s not just a trophy, so it is pretty cool honor and pretty neat thing to be able to receive.
Q. What are your overall impressions of the scene in the town?
ERIC STAAL: It was a great time. I thought they put on a great show. Fans are a lot of fun. They did the red carpet thing yesterday. It was a big turnout. Lot of kids. I think the guys really enjoyed it. They put on a pretty good show.
Q. Did you require or get a pep talk prior to the game from maybe your captain or the league to remind you to compete out there as a group?
ERIC STAAL: No, I think, no, we didn’t get anyone giving us a reminder. Everyone wants to put on a good show. Everyone wants to have a competitive game. I thought for the most part when the game started getting close it was pretty competitive and up-and-down the ice. Hopefully it was exciting for the fans to watch.
Q. Can you just talk real quick about that goal with the two on one with Kovalchuk? It looked like you had Phaneuf on a Yo-Yo there?
ERIC STAAL: Yeah, any time you go down the ice with Ilya, he’s one of those players that has such a great shot that the goalie kind of knows that. And I just moved to him right away and tried to get him that goal. And made a great pass back to me, and he kind of fooled both the goalie and defensemen, and I just looked up and saw empty net, and it was a nice play by him.
Q. Tim, how much does winning, being the winning goalie in the All-Star Game mean to you? I know your parents sacrificed a lot. You’ve played goal in a lot of locations, this has to be pretty sweet?
TIMOTHY JR. THOMAS: Yeah, it felt pretty good to come up with the “W” at the end. Especially the way that period started out for me with four goals in about four minutes or whatever it was. So it felt good to get the “W” at the end.
Q. What are you going to do with the car?
ERIC STAAL: I’m not sure. I haven’t really thought about it too much. Maybe the parents. I was saying to the guys on the ice if I do give it to my parents, it would for sure be the favorite of the family for at least a little while. But we’ll see what happens.
Q. Did you talk to Chris Osgood, not just today but yesterday. The crowd was all over that guy from a goaltending perspective, do you have any idea why?
TIMOTHY JR. THOMAS: He told me they’ve always been like that to him. I don’t know why. I’ve experienced when I’m playing for Boston here, they’re just a crowd that loves to get on the goalie.
But it was kind of funny. We were kind of picking on Chris coming to an All-Star Game to get booed, you know. But he takes it all in stride. He still had a good time.
Q. Given that you’re on the game winner, you had two goals, did you kind of think you might hear your name when they announced it, or did you think that Nash had it?
ERIC STAAL: I don’t know. I think the fact that we won, and I was on the ice in the last goal gave me a good shot at it. But obviously Nasher with three tucks, I thought that he might have a crack at it. But I guess they wanted someone from the winning side, so I was fortunate enough to be the one called up there. A little surprised, but obviously glad in the end.
Q. What was it like playing alongside Rick DiPietro?
TIMOTHY JR. THOMAS: Me and Rick have actually played together in the World Championships together, so we know each other well. We just had a good time. I think if I would have scored that goal at the end he would have been really jealous. Because I’m sure he wanted a chance at that one. He probably would have scored because he could have shot it further in the air over everybody’s head.
Q. Is this going to put a crimp in your plans to have a nice relaxing weekend away from home?
ERIC STAAL: No, maybe a little bit, but I’ll take it for sure. Any time you can be named an MVP of this type of event with the amount of players that were out there, it’s an honor for sure. I’ll take it.
Q. Quickly for both of you, what was your, aside from the win, I guess, is there something that might not be so obvious in terms of your favorite part of the weekend?
TIMOTHY JR. THOMAS: For me, just getting to know all these guys that I play with. I would have liked to have gotten to know some of the West players a little better. But being in the East locker room was a thrill. And getting to meet everybody that I’ve played against for a couple of years but never really got the chance to meet them. Even as a hockey player I’m always surprised meeting other hockey players how nice everybody is. I had a great time.
ERIC STAAL: Yeah, similar to that. I thought even just outside the hockey in the room, the whole event. They put on a great show. They had some good shows for everybody the first couple of nights. You get a chance to rejuvenate the batteries, relax a little bit as well. We’ve got a big stretch for the second half, everybody here, so it’s nice to recharge a little bit and those types are things are nice, too.
Q. You keep setting the bar so high for your brothers, are they going to be angry at this?
ERIC STAAL: I don’t know, we have one watching, Mark in the crowd, so maybe he’s a little angry. But if they play their cards right, maybe they’ll get the keys, but I don’t know. It’s doubtful. Very doubtful.
*transcription by ASAP Fastcripts
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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