|Legace salutes the crowd after setting a regular season team record for most consecutive shutout minutes at 186 minutes and 15 seconds. The previous mark was set by Greg Millen (Photo by Mark Buckner).
When Manny Legace skates in the 2008 NHL All-Star game on Sunday, he’ll be in pretty good company.
The Blues goaltender has arranged for more than 15 friends and family members to attend the game at Philips Arena in Atlanta this weekend. His wife, two kids, parents, siblings…you name it and they’ll be there.
“About 15 (tickets) right now,” Legace said last week with a grin. “And counting.”
Then there’s that other
good company, a group that includes Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Malkin, Nicklas Lidstrom and Jarome Iginla, to name a few. Legace will join them on the ice for a mid-season showcase of some of the best hockey players in the world.
For Legace, it’s a good place to be.
“You’re with the greatest players in the world on a great stage. It’s supposed to be a fun weekend and entertainment for the fans,” he said. “I’m just going to try and soak it in (because) you never know if you’re going to go back.”
Thanks in large part to Legace’s play this season, the Blues have a shot at their first playoff appearance since the 2003-04 season. The veteran netminder has played in 37 games leading up to the All-Star break, recording a 17-13-4 record in that span. He ranks eighth in the NHL with a 2.28 goals against average and 16th with a .913 save percentage.
“We wouldn’t be even remotely close to where we are without our goalies, they’ve been outstanding,” said Blues defenseman Eric Brewer. “(They’re) the strength of our team, so that’s hardly a worry for us.”
“Manny’s been our best player, without question,” said defenseman Erik Johnson. “Without him, I don’t know where we’d be.”
Sunday’s game will mark the first career All-Star appearance for Legace. The 34-year-old goaltender, who turns 35 on Feb. 4, is in the midst of his 10th NHL season and has posted a losing record just once; during his rookie season in Los Angeles. He is the first Blues goaltender to participate in an All-Star game since Roman Turek did it in 2000.
As humble as he is, Legace is quick to deflect any credit he receives. He says his success this season is a direct result of support from his teammates.
“I wish I could take the whole team with me, because these guys have just been phenomenal,” he said. “I really thought there were a couple guys here who really deserved (to go)."
|Sunday's game will mark Legace's first career appearance in an NHL All-Star Game (Photo by Mark Buckner). |
With rookies David Perron
and Johnson attending the YoungStars game on Saturday, Legace won’t be the only Blues player in Atlanta this weekend, but he will be the only one to represent the Blues in Sunday’s featured contest.
Is he ready to face the likes of Kovalchuk, Vincent Lecavalier, Alex Ovechkin and Marian Hossa, who will represent the Eastern Conference All-Stars?
“No,” he said with a laugh. “There’s a lot of talent there. Hopefully they miss the net every time they come down.”
His teammates are confident that if his All-Star Game is anything like his play between the pipes for the Blues this season, he’ll do just fine.
“He’s been consistent and he’s given our team a chance just about every night,” Blues President John Davidson told the Belleville News Democrat. “To see him get attention like that from around the league is very gratifying and deserving. He’s earned it because he’s worked hard and he’s a good team player.”
But while All-Star weekend is about receiving honors, soaking up the spotlight, and playing on a grand stage, it's mainly an opportunity to have fun.
"The whole weekend is about trying to enjoy every moment that you're there," Legace said. "I'm just going to try and soak it in."
For 2008 All-Star Game coverage, details and more, click here