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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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Posted On Thursday, 01.26.2012 / 10:40 PM

By Dan Girardi -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Dan Girardi's 2012 Tim Hortons All-Star blog

All-Star Draft full of highs and lows

As part of All-Access All Things All-Star coverage on NHL.com this weekend in Ottawa, New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi will be blogging his thoughts and experiences. Here's his first entry about arriving in town and fretting a bit about the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft:

My first All-Star experience is sure to be a fun one, but it started off with a bit of a hitch. When I got to the hotel with the family, our room wasn't ready yet. We had to wait in the lobby for about 45 minutes, which gave my son, Landon, time to run around for a bit.

Going into the All-Star Draft, I have to admit, I was pretty nervous. I knew I couldn't go last because defensemen have to go before the 15th round, but I was surprised to get called so early. I wasn't expecting to walk out of the green room before Marian Gaborik. On the car ride over, I was kind of nudging Henrik Lundqvist in an effort to get him to take me a bit early. I told him I've blocked a lot of shots for him over the years so it would be nice for him to not leave me hanging for a long time.

It was a really cool experience, the draft. I think it's great for the fans and I didn't mind having to sweat out when I'd be taken. For me, as someone who wasn't taken in the NHL Draft, it was cool to hear my named called and go up on stage. I was joking with TSN's James Duthie and shaking his hand as if he was the commissioner.

There wasn't much time today to see the city, but that's our plan tomorrow. I'm going to see the sights with the family, check out Parliament. It should be fun.

The skills competition is going to be exciting, although I don't know what the heck I'm going to do in it. As long as it doesn't involve skating or any type of skill. I'm hoping to just be in the hardest shot or a guy who does the passing during the skills competition. If I have to race Gabby or Carl Hagelin, they'll need to start at the red line and I'll need to be at the faceoff circle just to have a chance.

I'll be blogging for NHL.com all week. I'll report back tomorrow about my experiences from touring the city of Ottawa and getting ready for skills competition and the game. Thanks for reading!
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Posted On Thursday, 01.26.2012 / 7:46 PM

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

Alfredsson angling to get all Senators on his side

GATINEAU, Que. -- It wasn't the biggest revelation ever, but less than an hour before the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Fantasy Player Draft started, Team Alfredsson captain Daniel Alfredsson admitted he is angling to get all the hometown Ottawa Senators  -- defenseman Erik Karlsson, center Jason Spezza, and winger Milan Michaalek -- together on his team.
   
"I'd like to see that happen, yes," Alfredsson said. "Who knows how it is going to play out. It would be nice to get the crowd on our side."
   
Alfredsson also said that he would like to get the Swedish players involved in the game -- Ottawa's Karlsson, and Vancouver's Sedin twins, Danny and Henrik and Alex Edler -- on his side, as well. He already has Swedish goalie Henrik Lundqvist as his assistant captain. Ranger Carl Hagelin is one of 12 rookies named to the roster pool, but he will be selected as part of a group of rookies and not individually.
   
He is counting on his own drafting acumen, as well as the reluctance of opposing captain Zdeno Chara to pick the Vancouver Canucks after Chara's Bruins played Vancouver in a bitterly contested Stanley Cup Final this past June.
   
"Erik is a Sen and I'd like to have him on my team and then, obviously, the Sedins, I wouldn't mind them either," Alfredsson said. "I don't know if we will pick them early or if we will just hope that Zdeno and Lupul won't pick any Canucks."
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Posted On Thursday, 01.26.2012 / 7:36 PM

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

Senators excited about being drafted by Alfredsson

GATINEAU, Quebec -- If you think the Ottawa Senators don't care if they don't wind up on Daniel Alfredsson's team during the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft, think again.

"I would be (ticked)," defenseman Erik Karlsson said.

Alfredsson, Karlsson, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek spoke for a few minutes prior to Thursday night's draft at Hilton Lac Leamy. Spezza was far more diplomatic with the same question.

"I think we'd all prefer to play with him," Spezza said. "But it's his preference. He's the boss."

All four were voted to the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game by the fans. The break is usually an ideal time to get some rest and recharge the batteries, but the players are more than happy to take part in the festivities in front of the home crowd at Scotiabank Place.

"It's nice to be able to be at home and give back to the fans at home," Spezza said. "Tomorrow, I'll probably do a lot of running around. I've got a lot of family and friends coming in for Saturday and Sunday. I need to make sure to take the time to enjoy the game and make sure they enjoy it too. It's going to be a nice mix."

"It's going to be a fun weekend for everybody and I just want to enjoy it," Michalek said.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Quote of the Day

It was the look in his eyes. Hockey is the most important thing in his life. He wants to be a hockey player, and nothing's going to stop him from being a hockey player.

— Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin on forward Alex Galchenyuk's potential