|Blues rookie David Perron went from undrafted in 2006 to a first-round choice by the Blues in 2007 (Getty Images). |
As a boy growing up just 90 minutes away from Montreal, David Perron
remembers cheering for Alexei Kovalev and the hometown Canadiens.
Thanks to a late invitation to the NHL YoungStars Game, Perron will skate on the same ice he dreamed of years ago when he watched his team play on television. Perhaps better yet, he’ll share a weekend with Kovalev himself as some of the league’s best players are showcased in two-days worth of games and skills competitions at All-Star Weekend.
“It was nice when I got the call the other day,” Perron said recently. “It was really exciting and going back home will be real nice.”
Long before receiving the invitation, Perron had purchased a plane ticket to Montreal and planned to take a few days off to visit family in his hometown of Sherbrooke, Quebec, a place he hasn’t seen since training camp began in September. But his stay will be short…a chance to play in the YoungStars Game again was too good to pass up.
“I thought it would be hard to get in unless you’re an All-Star,” said Perron, who has five goals and a team-high 25 assists through 45 games this season. “Going back to Montreal will be unbelievable. It’s always great to go back there.”
The YoungStars Game, which will be held during the 2009 Honda/NHL SuperSkills Competition on Saturday, pits the league’s best young players against each other in a wide-open, 3-on-3 game. This year’s event will feature league rookies against some of the league’s best sophomores…which means Perron will be facing off with Blues teammate Patrik Berglund
, who will be making his first appearance at All-Star Weekend.
Perron, who participated in the event last year, will certainly help Berglund find his way around, but once the puck drops on the YoungStars Game, it’s all business.
“I also told him he has to drop his gloves. I don’t think he’s ever fought and I never fight, so we might fight,” Perron joked. “If he wants to go, I told him we could go.”
“I think we’re going to drop the gloves in the neutral zone,” Berglund added.
While playful fighting may not be exactly what the league had in mind, it’s certainly part of the fun atmosphere the league created when some of the brightest stars come together in one place. For Berglund, it’s about meeting some of the league’s top players, both rookies and veterans.
“It’s going to be fun to meet them all,” Berglund said. “I know hockey guys are real nice guys and we’re going to have a great time together and bond.”
Perron remembers last year’s events and recalls it as a good learning experience.
“Last year, when you’re in there with (Nicklas) Lidstrom and (Pavel) Datsyuk and those kind of guys, you learn from them and it’s really nice,” he said. “That’s the main thing of the whole weekend. The players get together and have some fun.”
And that’s exactly what Perron and Berglund plan to do. Just keep it simple: step back, have a good time and take in some of the best the league has to offer.
Even if it means spending a little bit more time away from home.