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First all-star experience something to savour

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson suited up for the Eastern Conference at the 2004 NHL All-Star Game in St. Paul, Minn., his fourth of five appearances in the league's mid-season classic. Ottawa blueliner Erik Karlsson makes his debut Sunday (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images).

Daniel Alfredsson has some simple all-star game advice for Ottawa Senators teammate Erik Karlsson.

Savour the moment.

Karlsson, the 20-year-old Senators blueliner, is set to make his NHL all-star game debut on Sunday at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C. (4 p.m., CBC). Alfredsson, a five-time participant in the game, said it's a weekend his fellow Swede should try to enjoy to the fullest.

"Just don't try to do too much," Alfredsson said when asked what advice he'd have for Karlsson, who departed this morning for Raleigh. "Take in the moment. It's easy to go from one thing to another ... to dinner, to a sponsor thing. (But) make sure you take it all in."

Alfredsson still remembers his all-star game debut, back in 1996 at the Fleet Center (now TD Garden) in Boston. The Senators captain, who was in just his second season in the National Hockey League, was understandably wide-eyed about it all.

"It seemed like I couldn't find my tongue," he said. "I was very quiet. It was almost overwhelming, with all the big stars that were there. The biggest thing I remember was (Bruins defenceman) Ray Bourque going around and asking for $100 from each of the guys for tipping the trainers. I know I didn't have $100 (with me), so I had to borrow it from him and it kind of worked out. So that was very intimidating."

Alfredsson has gone on to play in four more all-star games, in 1997 (San Jose), 1998 (Vancouver), 2004 (Minnesota) and 2008 (Atlanta), when he was voted to the Eastern Conference starting lineup, a first for a Senators player. Even five times later, Alfredsson considers it an enjoyable time for any player who's involved in the game.

"It's just a great experience overall, being around the best players in the world," he said. "(There is) a great feeling and atmosphere in the locker-room talking to the other players."

Getting to savour it all at 20 years old "is just a great confidence boost" for Karlsson, he added.

"Knowing you've been able to make it that far ... at his age, too, it's quite remarkable," said Alfredsson.

All-star weekend activities in Raleigh begin Friday night, when captains Nick Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings and Eric Staal of the host Carolina Hurricanes will draft the teams that will participate in Sunday's game (8 p.m., TSN). On Saturday, players are slated to take part in the Honda SuperSkills competition (7 p.m., CBC).


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