Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NHL All Star 2004 [Print without images]

Saturday, February 7, 2004
Updated: February 9, 12:48 AM ET
Players have some ideas

ESPN.com news services

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- One referee? Overtime shootouts? The old tag-up rule?

Several NHL All-Stars offered their own suggestions Saturday for how to help teams score more goals.

"The one thing I'd say is go back to the one-referee system," Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Gary Roberts said. "I think guys are going to get more of a feel for the game, more of a feel for what's going to be called."

Calgary Flames right wing Jarome Iginla suggested bringing back the tag-up rule, which allows players trapped inside the opponents' blue line to clear the zone without offside being called. Iginla also said having shootouts after an overtime period might be fun.

"I'm not a big tie fan," he said. "I would like to see a shootout. I know goalies might not be that excited about it."

Others had more sarcastic suggestions: "I'd like a lot more five-on-threes," Chris Pronger of the St. Louis Blues said with a smirk.

Philadelphia Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock thinks the situation is not as bad as some think.

"I think everyone wants to make the game better," he said. "But when you start complaining about it so much, everybody thinks there's a lot that's wrong with that, and I don't agree."

At least one person said he didn't mind the lack of goals -- a goalie, of course.

"Goals isn't the answer," Dallas Stars net-minder Marty Turco said. "It's creating the opportunities."

See no evil, hear no ...
Hockey commentator Don Cherry is in hot water with the CBC for some controversial remarks he made on the air, but he apparently has not touched very many nerves at All-Star weekend.

Cherry's remarks came on a show Jan. 24 in which he ranted against the use of protective eye shields. He stated that only "Europeans and French guys" routinely wear visors.

On Friday, the CBC placed Cherry on a seven-second tape-delay leash over what management called an "inappropriate and reprehensible personal opinion" expressed on air.

"Things that he's said have never been of particular offense to me," Toronto coach Pat Quinn said. "I don't listen to him much."

Added Roberts: "I'm no different than every other fan. I love to listen to him, and whether it's good or bad, he's got some good insight and people love to hear him. I enjoy watching him, and I think everybody else does."

Booing Bertuzzi
With two Minnesota Wild players making their first All-Star appearances, the Western Conference team will be the crowd favorite Sunday. But at least one Western All-Star is expecting boos.

Todd Bertuzzi of the Vancouver Canucks was the most-hated player for Minnesota fans during last season's physical second-round playoff series against the Wild. Minnesota beat the Canucks in seven games to advance to the conference finals.

The crowd booed Bertuzzi loudly Saturday night as he was introduced for the skills competition. Still, he did get some cheers when he scored on Jose Theodore in the first round of the Breakaway Relay.

"Obviously you leave an impression on people," he said. "They're good fans here. They like the game. They come out full throttle."

You can't go home again
The Minnesota fans never got over losing the North Stars to Dallas, and it showed Saturday night when the crowd booed Stars Turco, Mike Modano and Bill Guerin.

Modano received a mix of boos and cheers. But a portion of the arena booed loudly as Modano did a live interview on the ice that was shown on the scoreboard.

He smiled at the boos and answered one question before heading back to the bench.

Earlier, Modano said he was happy to return to his old home.

"As soon as you get off the plane, and start tracking through the snow, it brings back fond memories."

Up and coming
Since its inception two years ago, the Saturday night YoungStars Game has given fans a glimpse of some future All-Stars.

Rick Nash, Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kovalchuk, Roberto Luongo and Nick Boynton are among the YoungStars alums making their first All-Star appearances this year.

Nash said some of his Western Conference teammates thought he was playing in this year's YoungStars Game when they first saw him in the dressing room.

"No, I'm in the big boys game this year," Nash said.

Asked whether the new wave of younger players makes him feel old, Toronto's Mats Sundin said: "Not yet, anyway, as long as Gary Roberts comes to these, I feel five years younger than him."

Roberts, 37, is making his third appearance.

Attendance record
The announced crowd of 19,434 was the largest ever to attend a hockey event in Minnesota.

Earlier in the day, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman praised St. Paul.

"This has been great," he said. "To me, this is the culmination of celebrating the fact that we came back to Minnesota, which we probably never should have left."

For the kids
Iginla was named recipient of the 2004 Most Assists for Children Award.

He was cited for his work in establishing his own charitable hockey school, donating $1,000 per goal to KidSport and promoting reading through school visits and a citywide campaign.

The $25,000 Iginla received from Ronald McDonald House Charities will be divided among the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, KidSport, the Minor Hockey Association of Calgary and the St. Albert Minor Hockey Association.

"Jarome shares Ronald McDonald House Charities' vision for making a difference in the lives of children," said Rem Langan, president of RMHC of Canada. "Not only is Jarome an outstanding hockey player, but through his time and efforts, he clearly demonstrates his community commitment."

Overheard
At age 43, Mark Messier is the third-oldest player ever to play in an All-Star Game. This year's game will be the 15th of his career. When asked about memories from his first All-Star Game in 1982, a straight-faced Messier said: "I think Rich Little entertained. We had unbelievable music."

Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.