|Kings defenseman Drew Doughty answers questions from the media during the YoungStars media availability on Thursday.
With the city’s Canadiens celebrating their 100th anniversary, Montreal was a natural choice as host of the 2009 All-Star Weekend. Divided by culture, language and political outlook, residents are unanimous when it comes to one thing, their shared devotion to and affection for their hockey team and the unrivalled success they have enjoyed in their first hundred years of operation. Kings All-Star Coverage
Voting early and often, they elected four of their own to the Eastern Conference side, Carey Price will do double duty, suiting up with the sophomores in Saturday’s Young Guns game replacing injured Kings netminder, Erik Ersberg, as well as backstopping the East in the feature attraction on Sunday. Mike Komisarek, Andrei Markov and Alex Kovalev, named team captain, round out the Canadiens players participating. Bench boss, Guy Carbonneau will serve as assistant coach, giving the host Habs five participants.
The area surrounding the Bell Centre has been done up with banners flying from the lampposts and fans can’t look in any direction without seeing the huge posters that have been applied to the sides of many of the buildings in the neighborhood. Carey Price adorns the outer wall of the rink itself while images of other All-Stars skate across other downtown structures.
The Kings will be represented by their captain, Dustin Brown, who suits up for the All-Star Game on Sunday and defenseman Drew Doughty, who shared a podium with Toronto’s Luke Schenn was one of the more heavily solicited rookies at this afternoon’s Young Guns media session.
Remarkably poised for a youngster touted to become the mainstay of the Kings’ defense corps and about whom the words Norris trophy have been optimistically whispered in some circles, the teenaged defenseman, who averages about 23 minutes a game admitted it came as a surprise to see so much action in his initial NHL campaign.
“I was expecting 15 minutes, maybe not even that many,” Doughty said. “But LA’s shown faith in me and given me a lot of playing time.”
While his success is largely the result of his own efforts, Doughty credits teammates with helping him make the transition to both the NHL and life away from home.
“Sean O’Donnell has been great. He’s a veteran in this league and he’s talked to me and been very helpful. My roommate Matt Green helps me not only on the ice but off it as well.”
The London, Ontario, native who grew up a Kings fan in the heart of Leafs Nation has no regrets about playing for his childhood favorites.
“I love it. It’s a great place to live. Everyone thinks of it as just going to the rink in shorts and a T-shirt every day and that’s part of it but the whole lifestyle there is great. We have a good group and we have a lot of fun,” he said before venturing an opinion that the future holds good things for the Kings. “The organization is doing a good job of drafting the right prospects and they’re going to build a very good team one day soon.”
Dustin Brown, who shares a room on the road with Doughty, and the rest of the All-stars meet the press Friday afternoon.
The public side of things got up and running Thursday with the opening of the Lay’s All-Star Jamboree, located in two large tents, one occupying the parking lot across the street from the Bell Centre, the other in the courtyard alongside it and spilling over into Windsor Station, formerly the train station where the Habs began and ended their road trips in the days before air travel became the norm.
Fans of all ages will spend part of their weekend there shooting or stopping pucks, playing video games, getting autographs and watching numerous media personalities broadcasting from the site. Eighteen NHL Trophies are on display along with numerous pieces of memorabilia from All-Star Games gone by.
There’s nothing wrong with the Bell Centre playing surface and winter has provided more than enough of the slippery stuff to keep orthopedic surgeons in business but they trucked in ice for the All-Star Weekend nonetheless. Thirty frozen monuments about five feet high line the block between Ste-Catherine Street and the rink, each one encasing a different NHL sweater.
Everyone Comes to All-Star Weekend – Habs heavyweight, Georges Laraque was at the Jamboree Tent, legendary broadcaster Dick Irvin strolled along in front of the Bell Centre greeting media colleagues, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman donned a headset at one of the remote broadcast posts and the Stanley Cup, comfortably ensconced in Windsor Station, accepted every photo request.
KINGS ALL-STAR NOTES
Four Kings making a total of seven All-Star appearances wore a Canadiens sweater before moving west. Terry Harper (1973, 1975), Rogatien Vachon (1973, 1975, 1978), Bob Berry (1974) and Mathieu Schneider (2003). Berry also coached both teams.
Compiled by Mike Wyman | Special to LAKings.com