Cease-Fire Prevails on All-Star Saturday

By HOWARD BERGER

OTTAWA (Jan. 29) – Hockey players are among the most fascinating species on Earth. They spend time between October and June each year perpetrating intolerable acts upon one another, to the extent the National Hockey League deploys a combination judge, jury and warden [Brendan Shanahan] to try and maintain order. In none of the other major professional team sports are athletes so able and willing to administer punishment. A lack of respect among these handsomely-paid young men seems to be growing rather than diminishing, as the struggle for many to remain in the league – and for clubs to make the playoffs – supplants any appearance of sportsmanship.

Put these same folks in an environment of friendly competition and brotherhood erupts from all corners. There is no end to the joy and revelry among the most ardent of rivals – particularly those that compete frequently (and nastily) in the same division. Dion Phaneuf and Tim Thomas chewing the fat in front of 20,000 onlookers? Why, it’s enough to nauseate any rabid fan of the Leafs, who are regularly trounced by their pre-expansion foes – the defending Stanley Cup champions.

This form of mid-season merriment occurred in spades during the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday night here in the nation’s capital. Scotiabank Place was jammed to capacity as the best hockey talent in the world gathered on the ice – each player wearing his club uniform.

Situated, as I was, in the press box – across from where the players commingled while awaiting their events – I was able to take a number of candid photos, as NHL rivals enjoyed one another’s company before returning to all-out war.

Given this corner’s bend toward the Maple Leafs, you’ll see a number of images featuring the trio of Toronto participants – Phaneuf, Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul. Many others are highlighted, as well. Please enjoy my photo-review of All-Star Saturday 2012: 

 

SCOTIABANK PLACE WAS DRESSED UP WITH MURAL-ART AND FLOOD-LIGHTING (ABOVE AND BELOW) FOR THE NHL SKILLS COMPETITION SATURDAY, VIEWED BY A CAPACITY CROWD.

 

AN ENORMOUS ICE SCULPTURE (ABOVE) STOOD OUTSIDE THE MAIN ENTRANCE TO THE ARENA, AND BANNERS DEPICTING ALL-STAR PARTICIPANTS (BELOW) WERE PLACED AROUND THE BUILDING EXTERIOR.

 

CENTRE-ICE (ABOVE) AT SCOTIABANK PLACE FOR NHL ALL-STAR WEEKEND.

ALL CORNERS OF THE PRESS BOX WERE OCCUPIED ON SATURDAY.

IT SURPRISED ON ONE WHEN A LOUD CHORUS OF BOOING GREETED LEAFS CAPTAIN DION PHANEUF (ABOVE) UPON HIS INTRODUCTION TO THE SOLD-OUT AUDIENCE.

HENRIK LUNDQVIST OF THE RANGERS RECEIVED A WARM OVATION (ABOVE) WHILE A MIXED REACTION GREETED FORMER SENATORS DEFENSEMAN ZDENO CHARA (BELOW).

 

PERHAPS TIM THOMAS WAS EXPLAINING TO DION PHANEUF (ABOVE AND BELOW) WHY HIS TEAM SO DOMINATES THE MAPLE LEAFS – IN BOSTON AND TORONTO. OR, MAYBE THE NORTHEAST RIVALS WERE MAKING DINNER PLANS.

 

WHATEVER THE CASE, IT WAS CLEAR PHANEUF AND THOMAS ENJOYED EACH OTHER’S COMPANY ON SATURDAY. HECK, EVEN TYLER SEGUIN EAVESDROPPED ON A DISCUSSION BETWEEN PHIL KESSEL AND PATRICK KANE (ABOVE), BEFORE KESSEL JOINED THE PHANEUF-THOMAS POW-WOW (BELOW).

 

JASON SPEZZA ENJOYS A HEARTY LAUGH (ABOVE) WITH DIVISION RIVAL JASON POMINVILLE OF BUFFALO, AS JOHN TAVARES OF THE ISLANDERS LISTENS IN.

MARIAN HOSSA OF THE BLACKHAWKS TOOK TIME TO CATCH UP WITH FRIENDS AND RELATIVES (ABOVE), SURROUNDED BY TEAMMATE PATRICK KANE (88); FELLOW COUNTRYMAN MARIAN GABORIK OF THE RANGERS (10); JOFFREY LUPUL OF THE LEAFS (19) AND BIG ZDENO CHARA OF BOSTON (33).

FANS AT SCOTIABANK PLACE (ABOVE) ENJOYED THE THE BEST EVENT OF ALL-STAR WEEKEND.

EVGENI MALKIN OF THE PENGUINS AWAITED SIGNAL FROM LINESMAN DEREK AMELL (ABOVE) DURING PENALTY SHOT COMPETITION. PATRICK KANE OF CHICAGO DREW LAUGHS WHEN HE DONNED A CLARKE KENT SUPERMAN OUTFIT FOR HIS SHOT ATTEMPT, AND THEN VIEWED REPLAY (BELOW) ON THE VIDEO-BOARD.

 

YES, THERE WAS LOTS OF WAITING AROUND FOR THE PLAYERS ON SATURDAY, INCLUDING THE ABOVE ORIGINAL SIX GROUP OF (LEFT TO RIGHT) TYLER SEGUIN, DION PHANEUF, PATRICK KANE, PAVEL DATSYUK AND PHIL KESSEL.

IN PLACE, AS ALWAYS, ON A SATURDAY WAS THE PRIME HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA CREW OF (LEFT TO RIGHT) JIM HUGHSON, CRAIG SIMPSON AND GLENN HEALY.

JOFFREY LUPUL AND PHIL KESSEL (ABOVE) WERE SOCIAL BUTTERFLIES ON SATURDAY, MAKING THE ROUNDS THROUGH BOTH TEAMS OF ALL-STARS.

KESSEL WAS ENJOYING SOMETHING ON THE ICE (ABOVE) WHILE STANDING NEXT TO RYAN SUTER OF NASHVILLE, AS KIMMO TIMONEN OF THE FLYERS WATCHED COMPETITION AT OPPOSITE END.

DION PHANEUF APPEARS TO BE ISSUING INSTRUCTIONS (ABOVE) TO KESSEL AND PHOENIX DEFENSEMAN KEITH YANDLE MOMENTS BEFORE KESSEL AND YANDLE SQUARED OFF IN THE FASTEST-SKATER COMPETITION (BELOW), UNDER THE WATCHFUL EYE OF REFEREE TIM PEEL.

 

ISLANDERS JOHN TAVARES SKATES NEAR CENTRE-ICE LOGO (ABOVE).

DION PHANEUF WATCHES (ABOVE) AS JASON SPEZZA GATHERS STEAM DURING THE HARDEST SLAPSHOT COMPETITION.

ONCE AGAIN, NO PLAYER COULD TOUCH ZDENO CHARA (ABOVE) IN THE SLAPSHOT EVENT, AS THE BRUINS DEFENDER DESTROYED HIS OWN RECORD WITH A BLAST OF 108.8 MILES-PER-HOUR, BULDGING THE TWINE (BELOW).

 

CHARA SKATES AWAY SMILING (ABOVE) AFTER BEING INTERVIEWED BY SCOTT OAKE OF HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA, WHILE PHANEUF GETS A KICK OUT OF SOMETHING SAID BY DENNIS WIDEMAN OF THE CAPITALS. THAT’S FAMED HOCKEY PHOTOGRAPHER BRUCE BENNETT PEERING UPWARD (AT LEFT), PERHAPS LOOKING FOR HIS IMAGE ON VIDEO-BOARD.

DANIEL SEDIN OF THE CANUCKS WAS DEADLY IN THE SHOOTING-ACCURACY COMPETITION (ABOVE), WHILE PHANEUF FIRED AWAY (BELOW) IN THE PASS-RELAY COMPETITION.

 

THE KILLER-Ks, KESSEL AND KANE, KEPT UP CONVERSATION (ABOVE) THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT ON SATURDAY.

PHANEUF, RYAN SUTER OF NASHVILLE AND RAPHAEL DIAZ OF THE CANADIENS (ABOVE) WATCH ACTIVITY NEAR THE BENCHES.

PHANEUF SPENT LOTS OF TIME WITH EX-CALGARY TEAMMATE JAROME IGINLA, THOUGH HE WAS DISTRACTED (ABOVE) AND HAD TO DIG SOMETHING OUT OF HIS EAR (BELOW).

 

OTTAWA TEAMMATES JASON SPEZZA AND DANIEL ALFREDSSON SHARE A LAUGH (ABOVE) ON THE SIDELINE.

TOWARD THE END OF THE EVENING, PLAYERS WERE GROWING A BIT WEARY AND LOOKING FOR PLACES TO REST. THE ABOVE COLLECTION INCLUDES (REAR, LEFT TO RIGHT) JAROME IGINLA, ZDENO CHARA AND REIGNING LEAGUE MVP COREY PERRY OF ANAHEIM; (FRONT, LEFT TO RIGHT) PHANEUF, DENNIS WIDEMAN, MARIAN HOSSA, PATRICK KANE AND RYAN SUTER. PHANEUF STANDS AND WATCHES (BELOW) WITH CHARA, AS KESSEL AND BRIAN CAMPBELL OF FLORIDA VIEW COMPETITION.

 

YET ANOTHER GATHERING (ABOVE) INCLUDED (LEFT TO RIGHT) KEITH YANDLE (3); NASHVILLE CAPTAIN SHEA WEBER AND TEAMMATE RYAN SUTER; PIERRE McGUIRE OF NBC SPORTS (WITH MICROPHONE); KESSEL, CAMPBELL; JORDAN EBERLE OF THE OILERS AND COLIN GREENING OF OTTAWA (IN REAR); GABRIEL LANDESKOG OF COLORADO AND RYAN JOHANSEN OF COLUMBUS. THE BLUE JACKETS WILL HOST NEXT SEASON’S ALL-STAR GAME AT NATIONWIDE ARENA.

SCOTT HARTNELL OF THE FLYERS TAKES VIDEO (ABOVE), FLANKED BY STEVEN STAMKOS (LEFT) AND TEAMMATE KIMMO TIMONEN AND THEN CATCHES UP (BELOW) WITH EX-PHILLY TEAMMATE JOFFREY LUPUL.

 

DENNIS WIDEMAN SEEMS EXASPERATED (ABOVE) AS HE MAKES A POINT TO JAROME IGINLA, WHILE RYAN SUTER AND JOFFREY LUPUL WATCH COMPETITION ALONG WITH REFEREE ERIC FURLATT.

YOU’D THINK JOHN TAVARES AND DION PHANEUF (ABOVE) HAD SEEN ENOUGH OF EACH OTHER AFTER THE ISLANDERS AND LEAFS PLAYED CONSECUTIVE-NIGHT GAMES PRIOR TO THE ALL-STAR BREAK.

WE END WITH KESSEL HAVING A WORD (ABOVE) FOR EX-BRUINS TEAMMATE (AND CURRENT NEMESIS) CHARA.

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