I’m a native of Barrie, Ont., now living in the southern U.S. and I had just a few thoughts following the all-star skills competition.
Hockey is a truly special game. The all-star break gives us a chance to soak up the interplay between today's stars and the stars of years past.
Today's players are humbled in the company of the game's greats. They seek advice and council from the players who blazed the trail they are following. There is nothing but respect and awe in the presence of the great players of the past - Howe, Mahovlich, Bower - and these great players, in turn, acknowledge the greatness of the up-and-coming stars with their size, skills and speed on a level thought to be unattainable in the past.
The people who play the game of hockey are not selfish, self-serving, athletes, expecting praise to come their way. They are mostly shy people from small towns who are actually honored and humbled to be playing the game they have worked so hard to be a part of and they look up to the game and cherish it in a way unlike any other sport.
There is a code amongst hockey players, one of respect. Respect of not only their opponents, but of the game itself.
Make no mistake, hockey is a hard-hitting, physically demanding game, but it is also a game of incredible finesse and amazing skill that mesmerizes and captivates those who appreciate what it takes to reach the highest levels.
And the all-stars crystallize all that we celebrate in the world of hockey. It's great to be a fan of this great game!
Greg Doucette, Charleston, S.C.