Assuming Montreal fans don’t auto-vote Newsy Lalonde onto the Eastern Conference All-Star team along with every other Hab on the planet, let me make a bold suggestion for a player who needs to be included on this year’s roster: Boston’s Milan Lucic.
Other than the great irony that would be the P.A. announcer in Montreal uttering the sentence “East goal scored by No. 17, Milan Lucic, assisted by No. 8, Mike Komisarek,” the appearance of ‘Looch’ would bring the right kind of energy and edginess that the NHL All-Star Game generally lacks.
And though his stats aren’t gaudy (nine points in 17 games), Lucic, who blogged on THN.com last season, is quickly becoming a fan favorite across the league and a great personality to showcase to the sporting world.
Now, I recognize the Western Conference stars wouldn’t appreciate Lucic launching Pavel Datsyuk or Patrick Kane through their bench, but the luster has come off the mid-season “classic” lately anyway; hockey without even a modicum of physicality is not hockey at all.
And it’s not like the West is going to be defenseless. Can you imagine if Lucic got into a fight at the All-Star Game? The blogosphere was raving about the potential of a Lucic/Dion Phaneuf tilt when Boston met Calgary earlier this season and since it didn’t happen then, maybe a bigger stage could prompt a showdown.
If Lucic wants to throw his weight around in more general terms, I’m sure Jarome Iginla or Shea Weber would have no problem getting their shoulders into a retaliatory bodycheck on the young Bruin.
And you know why? Because the All-Star Game is supposed to be fun. When Owen Nolan pointed at Dominik Hasek before notching his hat trick goal in 1997, it was fun. When the Young Stars skated around Atlanta doing nothing because they were afraid to show off last year? That was not fun.
Last year’s All-Star shootout competition showed elements of fun once the players warmed up to it, but this year’s installment will be the proof in the pudding – especially if they put retired goalies (such as the NHLPA’s Glenn Healy and the NHL’s Kay Whitmore, for example) in net as has been suggested.
Even if Lucic did rein in his physical style a tad, he would still play an aggressive, pedal-to-the-metal game in Montreal and that kind of play is infectious. I bet even fans of the Habs, Boston’s great rival, would find themselves cheering just a bit for a player who on any other night is their arch enemy.
Last night’s Chicago-San Jose tilt was the stuff dreams are made of, assuming you’re not a goaltender.
The Sharks came out on top of a seesaw battle 6-5 with none other than sophomore sensation Devin Setoguchi notching the winner with just four minutes left. Both teams used spectacular puck movement to cash in on the power play and skill players such as Kane and Dan Boyle were at the forefront.
I know it’s early, but the league could do a lot worse than having these two teams meet in the first round of the playoffs this spring.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey’s Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays, his column – The Straight Edge – every Friday, and his features, The Hot List and Prep Watch appears Tuesdays and Thursdays.
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