ESPN's analysts share their thoughts on the 2004 NHL All-Star Game:
The Wild organization is the most underrated in the National Hockey League. They obviously provided the infrastructure for much of what went on -- and what went right -- here at All-Star Weekend. The staff is so sharp, and everyone who was able to be a part of this was so impressed by what they've just accomplished. Boy, did they do things right.
As for the game itself, I will go away from this vividly remembering the goalies each making incredible saves. I don't think I've ever seen more fantastic saves from so many goalies in one game. The glove save by Martin Brodeur, the glove save by Marty Turco, a couple of glove saves by Jose Theodore and then the stick save by Dwayne Roloson. Just awesome!
And one more thing. ... If anybody doesn't think Rick Nash in the West and Ilya Kovalchuk in the East are the future of NHL offense -- boy oh boy! It look likes the crease is food and these two haven't eaten in about four years. When they get the puck, they just have to get in there, and they do!
The best part of this All-Star Weekend was the reception by the Minnesota Wild. There is such a great fan base here, and because of them, everything was centered around the game and the players. It was so well appreciated by both sides. ... The players were grateful for what the fans were doing, and the fans were so thankful to be a part in the action. It was a really special exchange.
What's interesting as we head into the second half of the season is the battles developing at the top for the division championships. You always have those battles at the bottom to make it into one of the top eight playoff spots. But, right now, there are going to be real battles at the top because all of the divisions -- except for Atlanta trailing Tampa Bay -- are so tight, that it makes it so important for teams to play for home-ice advantage in what will be some big Game 7s. There's really going to be sustained pressure on the best teams in each division to continue to play well and win their division.
The whole ambiance of this weekend was something you could feel. Hockey was in the air. Young kids couldn't get enough, while the old folks and longtime fans of the game were really catered to, as well.
What I will remember is the dedication of this game. Herb Brooks was a very, very, very dear friend of mine, and to see his life and spirit remembered and really celebrated in this way was very poignant for me. I was equally impressed with that commemoration as I was with the talent and excitement that was carrying these festivities.