OTTAWA (AP) - Daniel Alfredsson will have a big challenge on his hands in the All-Star skills competition - trying to unseat four-time hardest-shot champ Zdeno Chara.
One day after choosing up sides in a player draft, the two All-Star game captains got to work Friday. The captains of Team Alfredsson and Team Chara, along with their respective alternate captains, Henrik Ludqvist and Joffrey Lupul, made their own roster assignments for the six events to be contested Saturday night.
Alfredsson and Chara both called their own numbers to take part in the hardest-shot competition.
Chara broke his own record last year in Raleigh, N.C., with a 105.9 mph slap shot to take his fourth straight title. He also tabbed Washington's Dennis Wideman, Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf and Luke Adam, Team Chara's rookie competitor in the category.
Nashville's Shea Weber, last year's runner-up with a 104.8 mph blast, will also compete for Team Alfredsson, along with Ottawa center Jason Spezza and rookie Justin Faulk of Carolina.
GIVING BACK: Hall of Fame center Pat LaFontaine, Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman were on hand for the dedication of a state-of-art playroom at Ottawa's Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario on Friday.
The Lion's Den NHL All-Star Legacy Playroom is the result of a combined effort of LaFontaine's Companions in Courage charity, the NHL, NHLPA and the Senators.
LaFontaine, whose career was cut short by concussions, expressed his worries about Sidney Crosby's potential for making a full recovery from successive head injuries.
"I'm hopeful but I also know science," LaFontaine said. "I also know what happens if you get multiple head injuries and when you're at this point, when it's taking you not much of a hit to put you that far out, it's very concerning - very concerning."
NEW HELMET DESIGN: With concussions a big concern around the NHL, an equipment company is introducing what it claims to be a first-of-its kind helmet that is touted to protect against both direct and glancing blows that cause the brain to rotate.
Bauer Hockey Inc. unveiled its "Re-Akt" helmet at the NHL All-Star weekend festivities in Ottawa on Friday, saying its design features a free-floating stretchable liner that moves independently from the rest of the helmet. By doing so, the liner is capable of better protecting the brain from rotational forces that can also lead to concussions.
Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller has said it was that type of glancing blow that led to him sustaining a concussion and whiplash, and forced him to miss nine games earlier this season after he was bowled over by Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic.
Though warning no helmet is concussion proof, Bauer officials say they've had positive results after two-plus years of testing their product.
Philadelphia Flyers forward Claude Giroux has worn the helmet for the past three games and intends to continue using it. Giroux missed four games earlier this season as a result of a concussion.
Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos said he has used the helmet in practice and intends to start wearing it in games. Stamkos acknowledged Crosby's lingering problems were a wakeup call.
"I think it was alarming the last year and a half, the amount of concussions that were being diagnosed and the amount of time that guys are missing, obviously with Sid and his situation," Stamkos said of Crosby, who missed the last half of last season and limited to playing just eight games this season.
"I think that was kind of the thing that made it go over the top, seeing a player of his caliber and the amount of time that he's missed."
The helmet, which also features a lock on the back that tightens the fit around a player's head, is scheduled to go on sale to the public in May, and initially retail for about $220.
CASUAL OBSERVER: New York Rangers coach John Tortorella is in Ottawa officially serving as the Team Alfredsson head coach. In actuality, he has no plans to do any work, saying he's leaving all the decisions - including line combinations and goalie rotation - up to Alfredsson.
"We're window dressing as far as I'm concerned," Tortorella said of the coaches' role this weekend. "This needs to be about them. I'm going to watch and enjoy it. I'm going to be a fan."