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Canadiens legends greet NHL All-Stars

by Dan Rosen and Mike Morreale
MONTREAL -- Jarome Iginla had the lucky corner stall by the door in the Western Conference dressing room, making him the first All-Star to greet three of the six Montreal Canadiens legends prior to Sunday's NHL All-Star Game.

"One of my favorite players is Jarome Iginla," Serge Savard told after meeting the Calgary Flames' captain. "I really enjoy watching him play. It never came to my mind that I would meet him, but that was great to meet him. I love talent. I love the good players."

Savard, Henri Richard, Yvan Cournoyer, Jean Beliveau, Dickie Moore and Guy Lafleur -- a combined 51 Stanley Cups between them -- started their day at the Bell Centre by taking a picture with some of the All-Stars that have also lifted the famous trophy.

Lafleur said Stanley Cup winners are part of an elite fraternity and he was honored to be in the picture with guys like Vinny Lecavalier, Dan Boyle, Martin St. Louis, Mike Modano, Ryan Getzlaf, Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Scott Niedermayer.

"We all have something in common," Lafleur told "We all sacrificed and played as a real team. A team has to be a family to win the Stanley Cup. You can't buy the Stanley Cup."

After a brief press conference, the legends split up into groups of three to tour the dressing rooms. went along for the tour.

Savard, Richard and Cournoyer started in the West's room. Beliveau, Moore and Lafleur were in the East's room.
"We all have something in common. We all sacrificed and played as a real team. A team has to be a family to win the Stanley Cup. You can't buy the Stanley Cup." -- Guy Lafleur
As Savard was talking to Iginla, Richard and Cournoyer moved down the row to Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews and like every other player, Chicago's two young superstars stood up with big grins on their faces to greet the legends.

"This guy is one of them that is our size," Richard told the diminutive Kane.

"Playing as a kid you think you're going to grow up and be like one of these guys," Kane said after the legends had passed him. "For some kids it's not really realistic. For others like myself, I'm really just fortunate to be in this situation."

For Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas, it was a reunion of sorts. He played two seasons in Montreal, so he already had met the legends in the room. However, the moment was still quite special as Richard and Cournoyer both spoke with him in French.

"Oh, this is great. It's a really special feeling," Robidas said. "It's pretty cool getting a chance to meet legends like this that played the game. I mean, these are legends. It's really fun, yeah, really special."

It was also a reunion for Sheldon Souray, who was greeted by Cournoyer screaming in his direction, "You're back!" Souray played seven seasons for the Canadiens before moving on to Edmonton last season.

"It's unreal," Souray stressed. "When you play here it might be easy to forget that you're surrounded by living legends. I mean, there's Pocket Rocket, a living legend. But when this is all around you, it is a part of the culture here and you have no choice but to perform. You know what I mean. The pressure is on."

As Savard, Cournoyer and Richard left the room, Savard pointed out the dinner spread that was set up outside the dressing room for the All-Stars. He made Richard go back in just to see it.

"Shrimp?" Savard said. "In our day we had a big steak before every game, but we were not allowed to eat spaghetti. I remember we weren't even allowed to have water on the bench. It was a sign of weakness. We had only ice chips."

Over in the East's dressing room, Beliveau was commenting about the size of today's NHL All-Stars.

"The size of these players surprises me most," he said. "I'd be just an average-size player in the game today. I'm impressed by the skill of these good hockey players and their ability and makes the game very interesting. I enjoy the changes the League has made and I agree with all of them, because the changes have made the game a lot faster and a lot more entertaining. All these guys are such good skaters."

As Beliveau strolled around the Eastern Conference dressing room, he pointed to gloves and sticks and promptly offered well wishes and advice to those young guns in the game.

"It was thrill to meet him," Ottawa Senators forward Dany Heatley said. "He's a legend of the game and it was great to just talk about the game. We also talked about the SuperSkills competition on Saturday and how good a show it really was."

Tampa Bay Lightning wing Martin St. Louis and Lafleur met for almost five minutes, exchanging pleasantries in French. Later on St. Louis did the same with Cournoyer.

"I just was telling him how great he's been playing the last few weeks," Lafleur said. "He doesn't need someone like me to offer him any tips, he's doing pretty good on his own and I'm happy for him."

Florida Panthers defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and Heatley were discussing diet and curfew with six-time NHL All-Star, Moore.

"This is very exciting, compared to when we played," Moore said. "We never had anything like this, believe me and it's so enjoyable. I hope the guys are having as much fun as we are watching it."

"I just told him we eat a lot of vegetables and we were in at 11 on Saturday night," Heatley said smiling.
"It's an honor (to play in an All-Star Game). After you retire maybe you realize how lucky you were to be there. You could think it's just another game I have to play, but after you retire you are very proud of what you did and what you were chosen for. It's a privilege." -- Yvon Cournoyer
Upon entering the East's room, Cournoyer, who said he enjoyed the 2009 Honda/NHL All-Star SuperSkills Saturday night, was greeted by Zdeno Chara. He tapped the big guy's shoulder and told him, "Good win." Chara won the Cisco NHL Hardest Shot trophy.

After greeting Boston forward Marc Savard, Cournoyer said, "That's where I dressed." He pointed at Savard's stall and added, "Right there."

Of course, that's not completely true. He had the same spot in the dressing room, but it was over in the old Montreal Forum.

Cournoyer moved on to Jeff Carter and asked the Flyers' All-Star if he was having a good weekend. He stressed to Carter that he will enjoy this even more after he retires.

"It's an honor (to play in an All-Star Game)," the seven-time All-Star said. "After you retire maybe you realize how lucky you were to be there. You could think it's just another game I have to play, but after you retire you are very proud of what you did and what you were chosen for. It's a privilege."

Cournoyer was happy to meet Zach Parise. He wanted to talk to the Devils' star about his father, J.P., who he played with in the 1972 Summit Series.

Canadiens defenseman Mike Komisarek made certain he would obtain a lasting keepsake. The first-time NHL All-Star posed for pictures with each of the legends as they stopped to speak with him at his stall.

"Can't miss out on an opportunity like this," Komisarek said.
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