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Posted On Friday, 01.27.2012 / 6:29 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend blog

Phaneuf: Canadian flavor adds to All-Star buzz


OTTAWA -- Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf said Friday that having the NHL All-Star Game in a Canadian city has added a new level of excitement for him.

"Look at the city, you can feel the buzz," Phaneuf said. "This is the first one in a Canadian city that I've been to, and it's an honor to be here. To take part in an All-Star Game in a Canadian city is a lot of fun. They're doing a great job of hosting this event."

Phaneuf was then asked a question pertaining to Alex Ovechkin's absence from the event.

"He's entitled to make his choice," Phaneuf said. "I know I'm enjoying being here."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
 
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Posted On Friday, 01.27.2012 / 6:28 PM

By Jimmy Howard -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Jimmy Howard's 2012 Tim Horton's All-Star blog

Howard: All-Star experience is a surreal one

As part of All-Access All Things All-Star coverage on NHL.com this weekend in Ottawa, Detroit Red Wing goalie Jimmy Howard will be blogging his thoughts and experiences as one of the under-fire goalies in the skills-saturated All-Star Game. Here's his first entry, eginning with his thoughts on being pulled after the first period of his last game, a 7-2 loss to Montreal in which he allowed four goals in first period.

OTTAWA -- By the end of the first period of Wednesday night's loss the writing was on the wall. Pierre McGuire was right there in between the benches and I figured I would be sitting next to him doing color commentary on the NBC Sports Network for the rest of the night.

You know what, over the course of the year, you understand as a goalie that you're going to have those games. To have only two like that in 50 games so far, I'm very thankful for it, but they happen.

I don't know why, but I felt really good in warmups on Wednesday. But, the Canadiens came out, we were a little bit flat, and they rolled us. However, one of the things that I think has made me successful is having that short-term memory. I went in to talk to our goalie coach, Jim Bedard, for about five minutes and he calmed me down.

I had to just start looking forward to the All-Star Weekend. It is great to be here.

It's my first time here so I was really nervous coming in on Thursday. You walk into a room filled with guys from around the League that you respect so much. You sort of just have to pinch yourself because you still can't believe that you're able to be a part of these festivities with them.

It's still surreal for me. It was surreal at the Fantasy Player Draft, too.

I was waiting back there in the green room with Keith Yandle, and once Daniel Alfredsson and Henrik Lundqvist picked Brian Elliott, I said to him that I should just walk out on stage because they don't even have to announce my name. They had to take all the goalies by the 10th round, and I was the last one standing.

I knew they had to take me eventually, so maybe I should have just walked out there and taken a seat.

It doesn't matter that I was the last goalie taken. I'm excited to be here, and, most importantly, I'm excited that all my friends and family are here as well. I grew up in Ogdensburg, N.Y., which is just down the 416.

Now, in terms of the Skills competition on Saturday, I've been told that I'm the goalie for Team Chara that will compete in the Fastest Skater competition. Of course I am because that was the one I told them I didn't want to do. I know I'm going to be awful at it. I think I'm a pretty good skater, but I don't think I'm that fast.

But, win or lose, I just hope that I don't do what Tim Thomas did last year in Carolina and fall. I'm not sure if he did that on purpose. I have to ask him.

We'll see how I do. I'll write about it Saturday night.
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Posted On Friday, 01.27.2012 / 6:26 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend blog

Benn ready for action at All-Star Game

The 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game will be Jamie Benn's first action since having his appendix removed on Jan. 15. He says he's ready to go, and he wouldn't be here this weekend if he wasn't.

However, he also said that the timing of the All-Star break is perfect because odds are he would have missed a few more games if the season never stopped.

"I only missed five games, which isn't too bad I guess," Benn said Friday. "It was good timing, and I'll be ready to go after the break here. I'm looking forward to it."

The Stars are back in action Wednesday at Anaheim. However, Benn isn't necessarily thinking about that right now. He's enjoying his time in the spotlight as one of the best players in the game.

His appendectomy aside, just being here is important to him and it's why he says he received a vote of support from Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk.

"I had some talks with Joe Nieuwendyk and the doctors, and Joe wanted me to be here and I wanted to really come," Benn said. "It's a good experience being here. It's something I'm taking all in and I'm learning. I'm getting to see the guys and see what they do. I'm having fun with it. We're here for a good weekend."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Friday, 01.27.2012 / 6:25 PM

By Jason Spezza -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Jason Spezza's 2012 Tim Horton's All-Star blog

Spezza: All-Star Game is a time to reflect, catch up

As part of All-Access All Things All-Star coverage on NHL.com this weekend in Ottawa, Senators forward Jason Spezza will be blogging his thoughts and experiences as one of the player hosts of All-Star Weekend. Here's his first entry, detailing a whirlwind Friday:

From the time I got  up this morning until 8:30 or 9 o'clock tonight, I'll be doing stuff. But, it's exciting because it is in Ottawa and it is at home and you want to give  back to the fans. I'm excited about the Energizer Skate tonight because we are trying to build rinks around the city and raise money for that. It's a little disappointing that the Rideau Canal isn't frozen. Usually you can guarantee on Jan. 27 that the canal would be frozen. But the Rink of Dreams at City Hall is built and the rink has pipes -- that is why they built, in case the canal isn't available. I think it is great for the city to have that second option. Obviously, the canal is something special, so it's a little sad the canal isn’t up and running, but we'll make it work.

Today, being around the guys and interacting with different guys makes it a fun day. I did an autograph signing this morning at Fan Fair and it was mostly kids -- and that is what you want to see. You want to see the kids come out and enjoy it. It's been a long day and a busy day, but it has been worthwhile.

For me, I'm more comfortable in these situations now. You see familiar faces and you are not as nervous. Once you go through something once, you realize you want to take some time and soak everything in and make sure you remember it because you never know when you will get another chance. That's been my approach over the past couple of days and will be all weekend. I want to make sure I enjoy it and my family enjoys it and that I soak it all in.

It's fun to see the excitement of the guys that are here for the first time and the young guys. I remember how it was to be that guy. I'd love to get the opportunity to talk to everybody on the team and to some of the younger guys. For me, there are still some guys I want to meet. You play and compete against each other, but you all respect each other. That never gets lost in a setting like this.

I got a chance to talk to Pavel Datsyuk a little bit; he is a guy that I really respect. I sat with Evgeni Malkin at the draft. Shea Weber is a guy that I enjoyed playing with at the World Championships, and it was nice to catch up with him. There's always different guys that you lose touch with a little bit and these events bring you back together.

I've heard a lot about Erik Karlsson having a bit of fun at my expense Thursday night at the draft, but that’s OK. Erik doesn't have a lot of material. We're really good  friends, and we have a really good relationship. It was fun. We had a good time. I was happy we could sit together. He's a really lighthearted kid, loves to have a good time, is a jokester and has a real passion for the game, so it is fun for everybody else to see how he is. The guys in our dressing room already know what his personality is, but it is good for him to get the recognition nationally.
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Posted On Friday, 01.27.2012 / 4:50 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend blog

Lupul still laughing over getting booed during draft

OTTAWA -- The boos Joffrey Lupul heard during Thursday night's fantasy draft were hard to ignore. So the Maple Leafs All-Star who was hearing it from the Senators fans in attendance instead had a good time with it.

Teammate Phil Kessel said he was surprised by the anger directed toward teammates Lupul and Dion Phaneuf.

So was Lupul.

"Yeah, I was a little surprised," Lupul said during Friday's media day. "But that's good. It was fun. The whole thing was fun. If we're getting cheered in Ottawa, that's probably worse. That means we're not doing our job. The rivalry is starting to heat back up a bit. Their team is having a great season and we want to catch them."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Friday, 01.27.2012 / 4:23 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend blog

Iginla talks about new faces, skills competition

OTTAWA -- Jarome Iginla, at age 34, knows he's not one of the younger players at this year's All-Star Game.

But his veteran status won't help him out when it comes time for the captains to pick who is doing what during the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition.

"You kind of ask afterwards. 'Oh, what do you have for me?' Iginla said during media day. "Maybe as an older guy you have some say if you don't really like the event. I think they ask a little bit, like who wants to be in the fastest skater. That one you have to be up for. You don't want to see a big discrepancy in times.

"Maybe some guys take a long to warm up, eh?"

Iginla was asked if this year's game was a chance for some players that aren't necessarily in the spotlight can make a name for themselves with superstars Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin absent from the festivities.

"I think there's a lot of skill and yeah, maybe guys who are keyed in on Crosby and Ovechkin, maybe they can enjoy the excitement and dynamic players the NHL does have," Iginla said. "There are a lot of great young guys."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Friday, 01.27.2012 / 4:05 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend blog

Media day gets under way at All-Star Weekend

The two-hour fun fest that is All-Star Weekend media day kicked off with the game's three coaches -- Claude Julien, John Tortorella and Todd McLellan holding court for about 10 minutes apiece as the media engulfed them with questions about Sunday's game.

Tortorella, who is coaching Team Alfredsson, said he plans on letting Alfredsson and Henrik Lundqvist make all the lineup decisions while he sits back and watches like a fan. It'll be interesting to see if he maintains that stance if Lundqvist starts double shifting Rangers teammate Dan Girardi in the third period.

The first players to take their spots in their podiums are Zdeno Chara, Marian Gaborik, Dennis Wideman, Dion Phaneuf and Jamie Benn.

Stay tuned for more updates on the happenings on media day.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Friday, 01.27.2012 / 10:51 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Turco signs with Austrian club

Former Dallas Stars and Chicago Blackhawks goalies Marty Turco has signed with EC Salzburg in Austria for the remainder of the season.

The 36-year-old Turco previously had played for the club in December during the European Trophy Finals, posting a 1.95 goals-against average and .944 save percentage in three games to help Salzburg win the championship. He also played for Canada at the Spengler Cup, where he had a 1.38 GAA and .952 save percentage in two games.

Turco had been doing work as an analyst for the NHL Network this season.

A three-time NHL All-Star, Turco played nine seasons with the Stars and spent last season with the Blackhawks. His 273 wins are 35th all-time in NHL history, and in 538 games, he has a 2.35 GAA, .910 save percentage and 41 shutouts.

According to a report on TSN, Turco has an out-clause in his contract that would allow him to return to the NHL by Feb. 27.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 01.27.2012 / 12:15 AM

By Sean Couturier -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Sean Couturier's 2012 Tim Horton's All-Star blog

Savoring my All-Star experience

As part of All-Access All Things All-Star coverage on NHL.com this weekend in Ottawa, Philadelphia Flyers rookie Sean Couturier will be blogging his thoughts and experiences. Here's his first entry:


GATINEAU, Que. --
It might be a bit cliché to say it but I can't help myself, being in Ottawa this weekend side by side with the biggest stars in the NHL is really impressive.

It was only a year ago that I was playing on the Quebec junior league All-Star team, and just a few months ago I was playing the Gatineau Olympiques in the playoffs. Now here I am, back in Gatineau again -- except I'm here with the best players in the world.

When you go straight from junior to the NHL, it really hits you how different life is here. The hotels, the travel, the food, how well everything is organized; it's like another planet.

I'm just trying to savor every moment, because I often get the impression that it's all going by so fast I don't have the time to sit back and realize what's happened in the past year. It's like I don't even realize I'm here, but I'm going to do my best to take full advantage of the weekend.

I got to Ottawa on Thursday afternoon from Montreal, and as soon as I got here I couldn't believe how well-organized everything was. It's really impressive.

The first event was the player draft, but the rookies weren't waiting in the same room with the other All-Stars. We were in another room on our own and went to join them when it was our turn to go on stage.

It can be a little intimidating being at a big event like this for the first time with all these superstars, so it's really nice to have my teammate Matt Read with me on the rookie team. It's almost like having each other has calmed both of us down a little.

Watching the draft, it was pretty obvious that Zdeno Chara's team was getting booed a lot, so as a team we decided that we would pick Daniel Alfredsson's team so at least the crowd would be behind us.

I had a lot of players I looked up to when I was younger, guys like Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, but really all the best players because I tried to study them and steal the best parts of their games so I can add them to mine. So walking into an environment like this where I'm surrounded by the best players in the NHL was really special, because they were players I admired and still admire today.

My schedule is pretty light on Friday, so I'm hoping to get to know some of the guys a little better. The one event that is on my schedule for Friday is that Matt and I are going to visit a children's hospital here; I'm really looking forward to it.

I'll be writing this blog on NHL.com all weekend to tell you all how my first All-Star Weekend is going, so check back every day to read my thoughts. Thanks for reading!

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Posted On Thursday, 01.26.2012 / 11:17 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend blog

Phaneuf embraces catcalls from Ottawa fans

The Ottawa Senators fans were unwavering in voicing their disapproval of the Toronto Maple Leafs involved in Thursday's 2012 Molson Canadian NHL Fantasy Player Draft.

Toronto forward Joffrey Lupul was the assistant captain of Team Chara, helping Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara pick the team that would go against Team Alfredsson, chosen by hometown hero Daniel Alfredsson. He was booed lustily each time he announced a pick.

The catcalls, however, reached a crescendo when Lupul announced the selection of Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf, who has played the role of a villain in the Battle of Ontario since his arrival in Toronto a couple of years ago.

But, Phaneuf had no problem with the passion of the fans.

"The fans were great," Phaneuf said. "They don't like us. It's a big rivalry. They have their opinion. We don't want to be liked by the opposition."
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Quote of the Day

I was surprised. I knew I got it. It's tough. You never know how hard it is until it registers on the gun. I got pretty much all I could into and you just hope for the best.

— Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber after winning the AMP NHL Hardest Shot event at the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition