Giving back to the community was the theme of the day during Day No. 2 of the 2009 All-Star Weekend in Montreal. One beneficiary was the Martin Lapointe Arena, located in a largely working class neighborhood in Lachine, just west of Montreal’s city center.
Dustin Brown Media Session
Made possible by Home Depot, the official unveiling of the refurbished arena was attended by representatives from the hockey world including local native and 16-season NHLer, Lapointe, Canadiens president Pierre Boivin and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Also on hand were a half dozen NHL mascots and a number of former players.
Willie O’Ree, who broke the NHL color barrier in 1958 and presently serves as director of programming for the NHL Diversity, added the event to his schedule. So did Tony McKegney, for over 15 years the longest serving and top-scoring black player in the league.
Stephane Matteau, who netted the overtime goal that put the Rangers into the 1994 finals where they captured their first Stanley Cup in a half century was not the only one there to have his name engraved on hockey’s Holy grail. Hall of Famer and Montreal Canadiens legend, Dickie Moore, who appears six times on it, got the day’s biggest hand while Gary Bettman was second only to the Cup itself as preferred photo partner with the fans.
Meanwhile at the Jamboree site, a school holiday made for early and eager crowds lining up in far greater numbers than they did yesterday, awaiting the 2 p.m. opening of the fan-friendly tents.
The Western Conference All-Stars had their turn in the media spotlight in early afternoon, among them 23-year-old Dustin Brown. Remarkably youthful to be charged with the responsibility of leadership, Brown spoke about his role Kings captain.
"It’s exciting and it’s a challenge at the same time. We have a pretty young team so we try to keep the focus and determination at a high level," he said. “It can be challenging at times but there are a lot of other leaders in the room too, so it’s kind of a joint effort. I just happen to be the guy who is wearing the C."
While the team may be in the lower reaches of the standings, looking into the future, Brown sees a reward for the team’s faithful fans. Putting Terry Murray behind the Kings bench played a big part in starting things in the right direction. So did an accumulation of promising young talent, some still on the way up.
"We have guys coming through the system right now that are just breaking through to the NHL level and we have some established young players like Kopi, Sully and Jack," he enthused. “We have Drew Doughty here in the Young Stars Game and he’s obviously a special player."
When told that Doughty gave him much of the credit for his rookie success, Brown downplayed any impact he may have had, saying, “I don’t know about that. We room together on the road so maybe I tell him to go to bed early and so he plays well. We each have our own rooms here so I told him when we left that he was on his own and I didn’t have to baby-sit him this weekend."
Refocusing on the Kings, Brown identified the one element the team must develop to climb the standings."The main thing is to get a winning mentality, which hasn’t really been here since I was drafted. We’ve always had good teams but not good enough."
Stephane Matteau’s 13-year NHL career was not one that got the rugged left wing much All-Star consideration but one of his fondest memories is of a late 1990s trip he took when the big names were otherwise engaged. Then a San Jose Shark, Matteau accompanied a group of special needs kids on a one-day lightning assault on Disneyland, flying there and back the same day."Everyone was excited on the way there," he said. “ But they were all exhausted and most of the kids were sleeping on the flight back."
The Significance of Seven – Three players have represented the Kings seven times at hockey’s midwinter classic, Marcel Dionne (1976, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 83, 85), Wayne Gretzky (1989, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 96), and Luc Robitaille (1988, 89, 90, 91, 92, 99, 2001). Between them they account for more than a third of a all Kings appearances. Robitaille is the team’s career leader for goals, assists and points as a Los Angeles All-Star while Dionne is the only King to score the winning goal in All-Star competition.
Compiled by Mike Wyman | Special to LAKings.com