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Sharp's parents go the extra mile to take in NHL all-star weekend in person

RALEIGH, N.C. - Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp is putting a little extra pressure on himself at the NHL all-star weekend.

He wants to impress his parents, who went the extra mile to make it to Raleigh, N.C., to watch in person.

"They had a heck of a travel day yesterday and last night," Sharp said Friday.

His parents flew from Thunder Bay to Minneapolis and then to Newark, N.J. However, their plans changed when a connecting flight to Raleigh was cancelled.

"They met some friends on the plane, rented a van and decided to drive," Sharp said. "They drove from midnight to 8 a.m. from Newark to Raleigh just to be here.

"I better do something special this weekend.”

Sharp is fifth in the NHL with 26 goals this season. He has 46 points in 49 games.

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HEAD SHOTS: You can be sure NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will be asked about concussions when he holds a media availability before Saturday's skills competition at the RBC Center.

The head injury issue returned to the spotlight when Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby suffered a concussion. He has been out for most of the month and won't play in the all-star showcase Sunday.

The NHL introduced Rule 48 prior to the season—giving referees the ability to call a minor or major penalty for any "lateral, back pressure or blindside hit'' where the principal point of contact is the head. But it hasn't reduced the number of concussions.

"Blindside hits isn't the issue," Bettman said. "The rule is fine. What you have to do before you draw any conclusions, and I'll talk more about this tomorrow, is that you have to look at what's causing the concussions before you start changing rules."

Bettman declined further comment.

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STAR POWER: There was some Hollywood star power on hand Friday as the NHL announced the launch of the Hockey for Huggies program.

Actress Ellen Pompeo, the star of "Grey's Anatomy," is the ambassador for the initiative, which helps collect diapers and donations for mothers and babies in North America.

All 30 NHL clubs will host diaper drives next month in support of the program.

Joining Pompeo at the news conference was NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr., general manager Jim Rutherford, Hurricanes forward Eric Staal and others.

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