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They're all stars

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
They’re all stars for the Ottawa Senators.

Now the team’s No. 1 line will all get the chance to shine with the National Hockey League’s biggest stars.

Centre Jason Spezza and forward Dany Heatley learned Friday they’ve been added to the Eastern Conference team that’ll suit up for the 2008 NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 27 at Philips Arena in Atlanta. They join Senators captain and linemate Daniel Alfredsson, who was voted to a starting forward position in fan balloting.

“It’s pretty neat that the three of us get to go together,” said Spezza, who’ll make his all-star debut in Atlanta. “The reason we’re all going is probably because of each other. We help each other out, and Danny and Dany are the reason I’m going.

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson (left) will be joined by Jason Spezza (centre) and Dany Heatley at the 2008 NHL All-Star Game in Atlanta on Jan. 27 (Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photography/OSHC).
“We all try to make each other better players and I think that’s what we’ve done up to this point. It makes it more special to go with a couple of teammates.”

Alfredsson called the all-star trip “well deserved” for his two linemates.

“They’ve played great so far this year as well, and I’m sure a lot of fans are excited to see them get there as well,” he said.

Added Heatley: “It’s always an honour. It’s a great weekend and a lot of fun to be around those players. I’m happy to be going with Spezza and Alfie.”

But will Ottawa’s big three get to line up together at some point on all-star night?

Not likely, said Senators head coach John Paddock, who’ll direct the Eastern squad.

“I don’t think they’re going to play together at all,” he said. “This is supposed to be fun and exciting – that would be boredom for them to play with each other.”

“There’s some other pretty good players there I’ll give them a chance to play with,” added Paddock, suggesting he’d like to see Spezza get the chance to work his playmaking magic alongside Atlanta Thrashers sniper Ilya Kovalchuk or Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin, the NHL’s top two goal scorers.

But Heatley, for one, wouldn’t mind a shift or two with his Senators linemates.

“We play together every day, but I think it would be fun to play together in that situation,” said Heatley, who earned the MVP award at the 2003 all-star game with a four-goal performance. “You usually get to play with a little bit of everybody in those types of games, so we’ll see what happens.”

Paddock admitted disappointment that defenceman Chris Phillips didn’t merit consideration for the game at Philips Arena.

“Those kind of defencemen don’t get picked very often, if they ever get picked,” he said. “It’s too bad. It’s a situation where the all-star game is about entertainment, offence and a skills competition. So you know the direction they’re going to lean (in picking the teams).

“There’s certainly not much (Phillips) can do about it. He can’t play much better than the last two seasons he’s played for us.”

Alfredsson, Heatley and Spezza, meanwhile, will bring plenty of offensive credentials to the all-star game. Alfredsson, who’ll make his fifth all-star appearance, is tied for fifth in league scoring with Henrik Zetterberg of the Detroit Red Wings (56 points), while Heatley is one point behind. Spezza shares ninth spot with Ovechkin (52) but missed six games with a groin injury and tops the NHL in points per game (1.44).

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