All-star Notes: Nieuwendyk among NHL stars recognized, says goodbye to Stars fans

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Nieuwendyk was one of 11 NHL players recognized during the league's salute to a "Generation of Stars" that also included Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux, 19-time all-star Ray Bourque and 15-time all-star Mark Messier.

During his career, Nieuwendyk won his three Stanley Cups with three teams - Calgary, Dallas and New Jersey - and helped Canada capture an Olympic gold medal in 2002. When the Stars won their Cup in 1999, Nieuwendyk won the Conn Smythe award as the MVP of the playoffs.

"It was terrific to be part of what happened here in '99. For me, it started in '95, coming here to a city where hockey was page eight on the sports page. To be part of that was a really special feeling," Nieuwendyk said. "I never really got a chance to say goodbye when I left."

Before being honoured with some of the league's greats, Nieuwendyk was among 13 players from the 1999 Stars team that reunited. About 1,000 fans took part in a rally outside the American Airlines Center, where Mike Modano led a procession to the stage hoisting the Stanley Cup.

"We were really excited as players to see the fans come out like that. They remember that, they remember everything about it," said Darryl Sydor, who won another Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004 before being traded back to Dallas from the Lightning last summer.

Nieuwendyk finished his career with 564 goals and 562 assists in 1,257 games. He missed 14 of Florida's first 29 games this season because of his back then decided to retire when doctors told him it wouldn't improve.

"I think thinking about leaving the game was more stressful to me than actually leaving the game," Nieuwendyk said.


NO. 1 COACH: Nashville Thrashers coach Barry Trotz is participating in his first all-star game as an assistant coach for the Western Conference. It's a well-earned honour for the coach of the team at the top of the standings at the break.

Yes, the NHL-leading Predators, who have won 34 games and have 71 points this season.

"I think everybody in the hockey industry knows we've got a pretty good team and we've been pretty consistent this year," Trotz said.

Still, the only Nashville player in the all-star game is defenceman Kimmo Timonen.


NOT HIS BEST SHOT: Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara is a big hitter, and at six-foot-nine is the tallest player in NHL history. He might not get to do really show Wednesday night what made him an all-star.

"It's obviously a little different than the regular season. We're here to entertain and have a good time and play a fun game and score as many goals as possible," Chara said. "This is not a game where you can show that you're a guy who can hit the hardest."

Not in an all-star game, where goals were easy to come by even before the new rules in post-lockout hockey designed to increase goals. With no all-star game last year because of the Olympics, this will be the first played with the new rules.


SLAPSHOT: Sheldon Souray of the Montreal Canadiens used to watch the skills competition as a kid, and now is expected to compete in the hardest shot contest Tuesday night.

"It's a pretty foolproof event. You skate into it and shoot it and hope you hit the net," Souray said. "I remember Al MacInnis and Al Iafrate for their shots."

Iafrate won the competition three times, including the initial one in 1990, and three years later with a record shot of 105.2 miles an hour that still stands. MacInnis was a seven-time winner.


David Perron

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