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Bear Essentials: All-Star Saturday

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins

The Bear Essentials On The Road: Atlanta, Georgia (Philips Arena)

Good morning my friends. As you can see, this will be a bit of a work in progress this morning. I had to wake up a little early to run an errand and saw the city slowly spring to life. But I am a full-time reporter today, and I hope I can continue to provide some fun info for the Hub of Hockey. Atlanta is treating me just fine, thus far, and besides having to buy a jacket, Southern Hospitality is everything it is cracked up to be! JB

Atlanta (Photo: gatech.eddu)
Where are we going?
We are in Atlanta for the 2008 NHL All-Star Weekend. proclaims, "Visit Georgia, and it’s impossible to miss the rich culture that’s so prominent throughout the state. Our history is woven in a tapestry of bold ideas, timeless icons and unrestrained spirit. From the battlefields of the Civil War to the center of the Civil Rights Movement, Georgia has been making history.

"There’s a certain pride within Georgia that makes this state unique. Since it was founded in 1733, Georgians have cultivated their own state identity filled with history, commerce, music and art. Walk through our streets and be inspired by the stories and legends that blow from the sweet pines of the Georgia Mountains to the warm coastal sands of the Atlantic.

"When you visit Georgia, it’s easy to see why so many choose to stay. With a comfortable climate, high quality of living, thriving business community and the rich culture that this state was founded upon, living in Georgia is easy and rewarding."

Okay I can see that.

As for the city, says, "Atlanta was founded in 1837 as the end of the Western & Atlantic railroad line (it was first named Marthasville in honor of the then-governor's daughter, nicknamed Terminus for its rail location, and then changed soon after to Atlanta, the feminine of Atlantic -- as in the railroad).  Today the fast-growing city remains a transportation hub, not just for the country but also for the world: Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport is one of the nation's busiest in daily passenger flights.  Direct flights to Europe, South America, and Asia have made metro Atlanta easily accessible to the more than 1,000 international businesses that operate here and the more than 50 countries that have representation in the city through consulates, trade offices, and chambers of commerce.  The city has emerged as a banking center and is the world headquarters for 13 Fortune 500 companies.

"Atlanta is the Capital city of the southeast, a city of the future with strong ties to its past.  The old in new Atlanta is the soul of the city, the heritage that enhances the quality of life in a contemporary city.  In the turbulent 60's, Atlanta was "the city too busy to hate."  And today, in the 21st Century, Atlanta is the "city not too busy to care".

From my standpoint, Atlanta is a very pretty spot, with lots of skyscrapers and modern buildings, friendly people and, of course, hockey.

Who are we playing?
Obviously, the rest of the Bruins are off, but we have four representatives here in town.

2008 YoungStars Roster
 West Defense     East Defense
 Alexander Edler  Tobias Enstrom 
 Erik Johnson       Kris Letang 
 Jack Johnson      Mike Lundin 
 Matt Niskanen     Marc Staal 
 West Forwards    East Forwards
 Sam Gagner         Nicklas Backstrom 
 Patrick Kane         Brandon Dubinsky 
 Peter Mueller        * David Clarkson 
 David Perron        Milan Lucic 
* Replaced Tyler Kennedy

2008 Eastern Conference All-Stars
Defense                   Forwards
 * Andrei Markov      * Vincent Lecavalier 
 * Zdeno Chara       * Daniel Alfredsson 
 Brian Campbell     Scott Gomez  
 Sergei Gonchar     x Evgeni Malkin 
 Tomas Kaberle      ** Marc Savard
 Kimmo Timonen    Marian Hossa 
                                   Ilya Kovalchuk 
 Goalies                    Alex Ovechkin 
 ^ Tim Thomas        Mike Richards 
 Rick DiPietro          Jason Spezza 
 Tomas Vokoun      Eric Staal 
                                  Martin St. Louis 
* Named starter by fan vote
** Replaced Dany Heatley (unable to play due to injury)
x Replaced Sidney Crosby (unable to play due to injury)
^ Replaced Martin Brodeur

2008 Western Conference All-Stars
Defense                       Forwards
 * Nicklas Lidstrom    * Jarome Iginla 
 * Dion Phaneuf          * Pavel Datsyuk 
 Ed Jovanovski            ** Mike Ribeiro 
 Duncan Keith             Jason Arnott 
 Chris Pronger            Marian Gaborik 
 ^ Scott Niedermayer  Ryan Getzlaf 
                                       Shawn Horcoff 
 Goalies                        Anze Kopitar 
 Manny Legace            Rick Nash 
 Evgeni Nabokov         Henrik Sedin 
 Chris Osgood             x Corey Perry 
                                       Joe Thornton 
* Named starter by fan vote
** Replaced Henrik Zetterberg
^ Replaced Sergei Zubov
x Replaced Paul Stastny

Philips Arena
Where are we playing?
We're in Atlanta's Philips Arena.

A little history from The site says, "Philips Arena has consistently ranked among the top-10 concert and event arenas in North America since opening in 1999, finishing fourth in the 2004 Billboard magazine rankings for gross ticket sales. Also in 2004, the venue was named a 'Prime Site' by Facilities Magazine, an honor awarded by industry peers.

"Philips Arena, named for founding partner Philips Electronics and home of the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers, NBA's Atlanta Hawks and AFL's Georgia Force, has hosted many of the top tours and events of 2005 including: U2, Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Kenny Chesney (three sold-out shows), Kanye West, Disney on Ice, Neil Diamond, Nine Inch Nails, Usher's Project Restart, Elton John, Coldplay, Scream IV Tour, Sesame Street Live, Joel Osteen, Green Day, Toby Keith, MegaFest 2005, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Summer Rehab Games, Destiny's Child, Tony Hawk's Boom Boom HuckJam, Reba McEntire, Harlem Globetrotters, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Josh Groban, boxing with Laila Ali and Champions on Ice.

The operating rights to Philips Arena are owned by Atlanta Spirit, LLC, which also owns the Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Thrashers."

My take: It's a  pretty nice building.

When are we playing?
Saturday night the skills competition and the YoungStars game takes place from 7-9 p.m. The NHL All-Star Game will be played on Sunday night at 6:00 p.m. ET and televised on Versus.

Who is playing?
Milan Lucic will play in the YoungStars game, while Zdeno Chara, Marc Savard and Tim Thomas should all make appearances in the skills competition and All-Star game.

9:12 a.m.
Jarome Iginla and Vincent Lecavalier, the Western and Eastern Conference captains are on the podium right now, with the rest of the West coming for a media availability shortly.

Did I mention it was cold?

I am enjoying what I have seen of the city, thus far, and am especially enjoying being able to watch Blades coach the Eastern Conference mascots...yes the mascots are playing a game on the Philips Arena ice.

It is the first time that all 23 mascots are appearing at the same time and when I spoke to Blades, the Bruins mascot made it clear that things are going well.

9:54 a.m.
The Eastern Conference is on the ice and it has been fun watching the Bruins warm up for their appearances this evening. With the East in bright red it has been funny to watch Tim Thomas in his Black & Gold pads with a red and white (think BU) jersey.

In the meantime, I was able to listen in to Chris Osgood speak to the media

"This year coming in I would have never expected all of this," said the Western Conference starter. "I just wanted to come in and have a good year and play with Dom (Hasek).

"(If you were) even to mention me starting the All-Star game I would have said you were crazy."

The well-spoken goalie seemed genuinely humbled.

"I mean, I was just trying to have a good season and (I thought) I would be deciding where to go with my four days off."

Sounding very much like our friend Timmay, Osgood said Disneyland would have been his destination.

"It's definately an honor and I am going to enjoy it," he added.

10:25 p.m.
Just got an e-mail from the fine folks over at the New England Hockey Journal Show. They remind me that "The New England Hockey Journal Show airs live on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET, with Mick Colageo, Matt Kalman and Kevin Paul Dupont in studio. Our guests will be Bruins all-stars Marc Savard and Milan Lucic on the phone from Atlanta, along with Ottawa Sun writer Bruce Garrioch. We're live on the dial at 890 AM, 1400 AM and live online at"

As always, it sounds as if this is going to be a fun Saturday morning with the boys from the show, so be sure to tune in while you are waiting for the festivities.

Oh, and as the day goes on, look for video veiwing opportunites on the front page. JB

I got all three B's in one shot. A "great" photo. JB
1:07 p.m.
Hey! Sorry for the delay. There are so many media here it has been a tough task to find workspace.

Our Boys are doing just great in terms of spreading the word about the Black & Gold. Tim Thomas, Marc Savard and Zdeno Chara spoke to media from around the world.

Savard, in particular, seemed to really relish the opportunity to come back to Atlanta.

"I'm here and I am going to have some fun," said Savvy. "It will be great (to play alongside) some great hockey players."

2:10 p.m.
Speaking of the Bruins play this season, an enthusiastic Savard said, "We've been in playoff picture all year and we've really never slipped out of the top eight. It's a credit to the guys.

"We've had some tough losses, but we've rebounded really well.

"We're looking to get into the playoffs and to get some healthy bodies back would be a big part of that (process)," he said.

Captain Zdeno Chara admitted disappointment when questioned about last season. He obviously took it quite personally when the Bruins missed the playoffs.

"I wasn't happy with the way we ended up," said Chara. "I want to win and I want to be on winning teams and be a contender.

"So after the season was over, I took some time off and really thought about things and what needed to be I could be more effective.

"It takes time," he said.

Anything worth while does take time, but now things seem to be coming together -- especially now that the B's have four guys here in Atlanta.

2:49 p.m.
Hey, I almost forgot...don't miss me talking All-Star activities on NESN's "The Buzz" tonight at 6:30 p.m.

5:24 p.m.
I am back in the arena after sneaking out for some sustinance and I was able to check in with Tim Thomas in the Eastern Conference locker room. Well, I am not sure who is more excited, the kids outside the rink getting autographs from the red carpet, or Tim, who was honoring the first timers tradition of having a stick signed by his All-Star team.

His defenseman and captain Zdeno Chara was excited for Tim when he spoke this morning.

"When the All-Stars were selected and he wasn't on (the list) it was a little disappointing," said Chara. "I am happy to see him here.

"He is playing well and has made a really big difference for us, so he deserved it."

Z continued to on to say how excited he was to share in the event with his three teammates.

"It's always nice to have some of your teammates with you sharing the moment and enjoying the weekend together," said Z. "(And) it's also nice to hang out outside of the hockey environment."

Z also had some nice words for your humble blogger:
 Talking All-Star Game with Z  

6:36 p.m.
Our Boys are on the ice. No helmets! Strange.

6:52 p.m.
Okay, i was just handed a schedule.

Look for Timmy and Savvy in Race 1 of the Obstacle Course...Timmy in the Elimination Shootout...Milan and Timmy in the YoungStars game...Big Z in the hardest shot...and Timmay in the Breakaway Challenge.


It all starts at 7 p.m.

7:17 p.m.
Nice opening. Marc Savard had a smirk on his face as he was introduced to boos -- Marc left as a free agent, and chose Boston -- and seemed to take it all in stride.

Timmy and Savvy are on the ice for the Obstacle Course...he admitted some trepidation about the even as he has to attempt to shoot a puck down the ice and into the opposing goal...Savvy is on another leg and made two goals into the mini net...And Tim made one goal to help the Eastern Conference earn a point.

Winthrop's Rick Dipietro put two pucks into the opposing goal to help the East to a 2-1 lead.

7:39 p.m.
We're into the Elimination Shootout and Mr. Thomas has donned his helmet.

DiPietro is in goal for the second round (Timmy is third) and made a very nice stop on Mike Ribeiro. And then he made a stretching toe-save on Marion Gaborik.

And then it was Tim's turn. He would face Corey Perry and Nicklas Lidstrom. Perry missed when Tim didn't budge off the near post. And Thomas made a solid right pad stop on Lidstrom.

Tim stayed in for the elimnation round and would face Dion Phaneuf -- unfortunately, Dion put a nice move on the Tank, who showed his break dancing skills when his momentum spun him around like a top.

8:00 p.m.
Milan Lucic is on the ice for the YoungStars and Tim Thomas is in goal for the East. Facing him, in similar facial gear, is the Detroit Red Wings Chris Osgood. So it's two old-school goalies leading the kids.

Tim made a nice save to start the game and the East scored the first goal. But he was beaten by Patrick Kane.

And Milan smoked a goal by Osgood for the East's fifth marker!

Peter Mueller scored only the West's second goal against Tim, who made several outstanding saves in his six-minute stint.

Milan distinguished himself by being the only player to attempt some defense.

8:47 p.m.
Zdeno Chara is up now in the hardest shot contest.

He said that he was a little worried about the placement of the contest -- at the end of the night -- because he thought he might be a little tight.

Not so...hit beat his record from last season and hit 103.1.


9:06 p.m.
We're into the NHL's version of the slam dunk, and Timmay will be in net in a few moments...

Timmy stopped both from Ryan Getzlaf. One with the right pad and one with the glove.

He then had to face him again in the finals. No shot from Ryan, who tried the "lacrosse move" on the first one. And Tim stoned him on the second.

9:48 p.m.
I just got back. Savvy was watching his (truly beautiful) kids and trying to keep them from tearing up the locker room, so I didn't get him (I'll get him tomorrow). But I have stuff from Lucic, Thomas and Chara.

11:49 p.m.
I just updated the front page with a story about Big Z's latest feat of strength and a ton of links to some great stuff from

Obviously, I got out of the arena and am safely ensconced in my hotel room winding down. Tommorrow is going to be another busy day, what with trying to see some of the city and the big game at 6 p.m. So some sleep is in order in short measure.

I have more quotes on my recorder than I know what to do with, so be sure to be checking in as often as possible for the rest of the weekend.
Read about All-Star Sunday, here...
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