NHL all-stars help to build home for family displaced by hurricane

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Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby, Washington Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin and other players hammered some nails in the parking lot at the American Airlines Center, helping local volunteers in their effort to frame a house for a family displaced by hurricane Katrina.

The home will eventually be located in a neighbourhood near the rink. It will be the fourth of six houses built as part of a NHL Players' Association and NHL hurricane-recovery effort with Habitat for Humanity International.


MARTY ON SID: Sidney Crosby has been asked for his opinion on all kinds of things this week and veteran goalie Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils is impressed with how the 19-year-old has handled himself.

"I think that's a responsibility that goes with being an all-star, being the marquee player for the NHL," said Brodeur. "He's been in the limelight since he was 16 years old. . . . He seems to be a really smart kid and his comments are always appropriate, and definitely it's a pressure - the best player in the NHL - to that extent he's got to deal with that pressure.

"And for sure different people would maybe have a hard time. He's a kid that I think can handle it."


PARCELLS 24/7: The NHL can't seem to catch a break.

The front page of the Dallas Morning News was covered with the resignation of Dallas Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells and also dominated the first five pages of the sports section.

Aside from the beginning of a hockey column below the fold, the NHL all-star game was featured on pages 10 and 11 of the sports section.


SHANNY ON GOALIES: Forget bigger nets, smaller goalie equipment is the answer to more goals according to veteran winger Brendan Shanahan of the New York Rangers.

"The goalie is going to hate me for saying this, but I think we failed a little bit with the goaltenders and their equipment and streamlining the equipment," said Shanahan.

"So much of the focus was on the width of their pads and it's really about their upper body, in my opinion. And you know, you want to make sure these guys are protected. I just don't understand how a cop can walk down the street in a bulletproof vest and look normal, yet our goalies have to look like lacrosse goalies, Michelin Men, in order to stop a puck. . . .

"I think to a certain degree we have to look at the goaltender situation again with their upper body and pants."


NEAT TRICKS?: Wednesday's all-star game might showcase a few hot dog plays one wouldn't normally see in a regular NHL game.

"I think so, if it works," said Tampa Bay Lightning winger Martin St. Louis. "If it doesn't, you might get laughed at. You're just trying to entertain the fans, that's the biggest thing. If you can come up with something that's going to get people off their feet and get the people clapping at home, get more people watching, then that's the right thing."


LUONGO DOES IT RIGHT: Some NHL players take a pass on the all-star game but Western Conference starting goalie Roberto Luongo would never dream of it.

"I think, first of all, it's an honour, especially when you're voted in by the fans," said the Vancouver Canucks star. "I think you've got to acknowledge that, and show respect in return and show up and try to do your best."


CAPTAIN CANADA: It's hard to believe this is Ryan Smyth's first all-star game.

"I've had some pretty good years," said the Edmonton Oilers winger. "But we've had pretty good players - Doug Weight and Bill Guerin. And Eric Brewer had a good year that one year he came.

"And we had a few years where we didn't have anybody come, and it's obviously an honour and I want to represent the Oilers well and come out and have fun."


BETTER BILL: Veteran winger Bill Guerin is having a great season after struggling last year. He points to his duties during labour talks as having set him back last year.

"You know, I just think this year I got a clear head," he said. "And I had a good summer of training and I didn't miss many days, and it wasn't the case like the summer before.

"I missed a lot. I didn't have all the opportunities. So mentally and physically I feel better."