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Paddock behind East all-star bench

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
John Paddock waited more than a decade for a second chance as a National Hockey League coach.

Now he’s getting a bonus opportunity.

The Ottawa Senators bench boss and the Detroit Red Wings’ Mike Babcock were officially named Wednesday as head coaches for the 2008 NHL All-Star Game, which will be played Jan. 27 at Philips Arena in Atlanta. The selection is based on the top points percentage of teams in each conference as of Jan. 4.

While that date is still two days away, the Senators (25-10-4, .692) are guaranteed to top the Eastern Conference on Friday. Paddock’s assistant will be either Brent Sutter (New Jersey), John Stevens (Philadelphia) or Tom Renney (New York Rangers), whose teams are locked in a tight battle for the second-highest points percentage in the East.

“It’s certainly a very exciting thing to have an opportunity, on a short-term basis in sort of a fun game, to be around some of the most talented players in the game and in the world,” said Paddock, whose last NHL coaching stint, with the Winnipeg Jets, ended in 1995. “We have three or four players here (in Ottawa) who are premier players, and now you’re going to be around a lot more of them.

“So I’m thankful for the opportunity and for what the team’s done this year to allow that … Bryan (general manager Murray) and the coaches, everyone’s been around it.”

Read more about the all-star coaching announcement here.

Spezza tops NHL's December stars

Senators centre Jason Spezza has been named the NHL's First Star for the month of December.

In 14 games, Spezza led all league scorers with 25 points (10 goals, 15 assists) and recorded a plus-14 rating as the Senators went 9-3-2 and extended their lead in the Eastern Conference standings.

Spezza recorded points in 13 of 14 games, including nine multiple-point performances. He recorded goals in eight contests, including game-winners against Pittsburgh on Dec. 13 and Bostonon  Dec. 18. He also notched a 10-game point streak from Dec. 12-29, tallying 20 points (9-11-20) in that span. Spezza ranks third on the Senators and 10th in overall NHL scoring with 49 points (14 goals, 35 assists) in 33 games.

You'll find more here about December's Three Stars, including video highlights.

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