Friday, February 01, 2002

NHL All-Star game is no place for goalies




Enquirer staff and news services

[img]
Dominik Hasek will start in goal for the World team.
(AP file photo)
| ZOOM |
        LOS ANGELES — Being a goaltender selected to play in the NHL All-Star game might be among the most thankless honors in professional sports.

        After being among hockey's top players by keeping opposing teams from scoring all season, a goaltender is rewarded with a berth in a game that has become notorious for its offense.

        “You wish the game featured more defense,” said Los Angeles Kings goaltender Felix Potvin, who played in two All-Star games when he was with Toronto in the mid-1990s.

        “It would be more fun for goalies ... but with the tough schedule that we play, it's become a point that everyone approaches the game just to have a good experience. The fans enjoy seeing a lot of goals scored,” Potvin said.

        Staples Center hosts the 52nd All-Star game on Saturday, its first visit to Los Angeles since 1981. The game comes a day before the rescheduled Super Bowl in New Orleans and less than a week before the Winter Olympics begin in Salt Lake City.

        “The All-Star game back then wasn't as big as an event. Now it is almost All-Star week. It has really grown,” said Dave Taylor, Los Angeles Kings GM and an All-Star in '81.

        “It's not just a showcase for the National Hockey League to show off the best players in the league anymore. There are so many other events leading up to the game. But it's still a great chance for players and fans to have fun.”

        The YoungStars game, new this year for players 25 and under, and the SuperSkills competition are Friday. The skills event tests the All-Stars to see who is the fastest skater and who has the hardest and most accurate shot.

        At least 19 of the 20 players and coach Herb Brooks of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team will reunite at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Friday to play a group of NHL alumni. It's the largest number of players from the gold medal-winning team to reunite since they visited the White House after the Lake Placid Games.

        When the NHL held the All-Star game at the Forum in Inglewood, the score was 4-1 in favor of the Campbell Conference and the most valuable player was St. Louis goaltender Mike Liut. He combined with Philadelphia's Pete Peeters to stop 24 of 25 shots.

        A goaltender could face that many shots in one period Saturday. Colorado's Patrick Roy will start in goal for North America; Detroit's Dominik Hasek is the World starter.

        Until 1989, there had been only four All-Star games with more than 10 goals scored. Since then, there has been only one game in which there have been less than 14 goals scored.

        Twenty-six goals were scored in last year's game, an All-Star record.

        “The game is a lot more wide open today than it was back then,” Taylor said. “There's not as much emphasis on defense.”

        The NHL's current All-Star format pitting North America against the World began in 1998 and has averaged 16 goals.

       



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