Moderator (11:12 AM)
Hey everybody! Happy All-Star Weekend! I'm here in Minnesota coming to you from the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. There are plenty of players wandering around here and, of course, ESPN's team of the smartest hockey analysts around. Send in your questions and we'll be grabbing these special guests as they skate by! Enjoy! I'm so happy to introduce our first guest, welcome the legendary MARK MESSIER to chat!!
Mark!! What's advice do you the wise man give young kids like Nash on how to adapt and preserve longevity, etc? Thanks!
Messier (12:55 PM)
Oh it's so hard, but I think the key to helping along young players especially very early in their careers is not to fill them up with too much information. They get to the NHL by doing what they do, you don't want to overwhelm them and change something that's been working for them and carrying them to that point.
Moderator (12:57 PM)
Are you one to go up to a young player and offer them advice if you see something you can help with? Would take an aggressive stance on something like that or do you sit back and wait for them to approach you and ask specifically?
Messier (12:59 PM)
Well, I wouldn't say that I would be offering my opinion to opposing players -- kids I don't know well -- just becuase I think that in order to really hand out advice to someone, you have to establish a solid personal relatioship with them first. Get to know them and their style, let them understand where you're coming from first, any words of improvement or constructive criticism will go much further once that personal relationship between you has been established.
Did seeing Mike Richter's number retired the other night make you want to savor this All-Star experience just a little more? Do you appreciate it more at this point in your career, or was it a bigger deal when you were just startng?
Messier (1:09 PM)
Oh absolutely I think there's no question that when you're going into this, not knowing if it will be your last, I'm savoring every second of it. I wasn't expecting to be here at the start of the season, I actually made alternate plans, and here I am. I 'm so glad to be here and I really just enjoy the whole experience so much at this point in my carreer.
Mess, In order for the Rangers to make the playoffs, Do you feel you need some role players on this year team, like the ones you had back in 94?
Messier (1:20 PM)
Well, if we got a playoff wish list, I think some help of any kind would certainly be on the top as we just ran into a rash of injuries in January that pretty much decimated our team -- especially our defense. Beyond that, I think that in order to make the playoffs what we really need is some consistency. We've played really well at times this year but our standard night after night has got to get better.
Mess! Hey old man! You should be the captain of that team!!
Messier (1:27 PM)
Hey, I'm surprised I'm even here with my name on a roster. Beggars can't be choosers!!
Cliff Halfast Jr.
MESS you are the man im A huge RANGERS fan, and just want ya to know that Us fans out there still think you guys can make playoffs and go deep, ps: tell Eric to get Better and dont come back till he feels 100% !
Messier (1:31 PM)
Thanks for the support Cliff, I'll pass on your message to Eric, we can't wait to have him back healthy.
Hey Mark! You've been around the game "a little while" -- how would you improve scoring?
Messier (1:36 PM)
Well I think that if you look back to the '80s when goal scoring was at its peak, the rules allowed for that by offsetting penalties, delayed off-sides, etc. Even if we adjust the rules now, though, I don't think we'll ever go back to those high scoring days because of the quality goaltending we have now. Over the last 10-15 years, goaltending has been the position that's made the most improvements. They can make any change up for consideration right now-- wident the lines, less the rink, use less players, whatever -- but the goaltending is so good that even when you're getting the opportunites and great scoring chances goalies are making bigger and better saves than they ever have.
Katie (New Hampshire)
Hi Mark! So do you think that they should make the goals bigger or take some of the goalie equipment out?
Messier (1:40 PM)
Well, then you are really tampering with the tradition of the game and you are playing with the recordbooks. I'm not going to say that that can't happen or won't happen but I guess I'm a bit of a traditionalist, I like the way the game is and I think there are a few other changes that might offer up -- one being the best players on a ice for a longer period of time and the other being that delayed off-sides whistle.
Moderator (1:54 PM)
Hey everybody, here's comes Thrashers hotshot Ilya Kovalchuk!
James (Burlington, VT)
Ilya, congratulations on making the All-Star team. You like to celebrate when you score, how long have you been doing that?
Kovalchuk (1:55 PM)
Yes, I'm a very emotional player, and hockey is a very exciting sport so I can't help but celebrate after I score a goal. Goals are why you play hockey. I feel better after I score so I celebrate. Goals are the best part.
Any plans for a special All-Star celebration if you score tomorrow night?
Kovalchuk (1:56 PM)
No, I don't think about it actually, it's not something I plan, the celebrations just happen.
Moderator (1:59 PM)
Hey everybody, Daniel Alfredsson is here for his fourth All-Star game ... send in your questions for the Senator center!
Brandon (Downingtown, PA)
Daniel -- the trap, the size of the goal, the hooks -- what's the main cause of lack of offense?
Daniel Alfredsson (2:01 PM)
Well, I think we've had pretty good success scoring goals. I'm not sure how our goal percentage today stacks up to five years ago. But you know, we've got four lines who provide a scoring threat at any point in the game and we are well coached. You have to be creative scorers. I don't think I can say-- the trap is the problem. You have to find ways to beat it, that's all there is to it. And I like the red line the way it is, I don't think they should change that, we just have to come up with a break up that gives you a way to get in there and create some.
You talk about rolling over four lines. What if they rolled rosters back to nine forwards?
Daniel Alfredsson (2:01 PM)
No, I don't think that would help. Then you'd have the players out there skating even longer probably. They'd get tired and you don't make good plays when you're tired.
Moderator (2:02 PM)
One suggestion is once you acheive the zone on offense, and you're all in, then you back the offensive zone out to the red line and you have half ice offensive zone, what do you think of that?
Daniel Alfredsson (2:02 PM)
Well, I think what would happen then is, teams will just cover up the dangerous area and let opponents skate on the outside till they are blue in the face. I think with this you'd see something more like basketball, ok they 'll set up the perimeter, try to throw a pick here and there to create a scroing chance -- I'm not a big fan of it.
When all you players are all out there together, are you talking about the problems in hockey and how to fix them as much as we are?
Daniel Alfredsson (2:04 PM)
Yes, definitely there is talk about the game and how to improve it -- especially among us forwards, all talking about how to score and what's going on.
Moderator (2:05 PM)
Is the labor debate also a topic of discussion among you guys this weekend?
Daniel Alfredsson (2:05 PM)
No,I don't think it will be this weekend. We are focused on hockey and having some fun.
Hey Daniel, which teams have surprised you most this year?
Daniel Alfredsson (2:07 PM)
Uhhh, hmm. I always thought Boston would be good -- that doesn't surprise me. I like what Calgary has done. I think the goaltending they've had this year as opposed to last year is the key to their success. Great defense, great goaltending -- they still haven't been scoring too much but they're defense is much improved.
I'm a huge fan! Congratulations on making the team again! This is your fourth appearance at the All-Star game, how did you mature to this point?
Daniel Alfredsson (2:07 PM)
Well, I think now I'm a much smarter player, I used to skate everywhere and no where all at the same time when I first entered the leauge. You learn to be selective and you pick your battles on the ice. That makes you more effective. Having the same coach for so long has certainly helped me. The biggest improvement I've made though is definitely in my shot. That is of course from lots of practice ... and these new sticks! Hahaha!
Daniel Alfredsson (2:08 PM)
Ha, no seriously, though, yes the new sticks are great, but practice has been a huge help. You know, over in Europe we never really practice shooting, ever. Here, we shoot before or after every practice, more or less. That has helped me so much.
Moderator (2:24 PM)
Hey folks, we're now joined by Stars center MIKE MODANO!
Kevin (Fort Worth)
Modano! You the man! So we've been asking everybody, it's your turn! Why isn't there more scoring these days??
Mike Modano (2:39 PM)
Well, I tend to think the biggest factor in decreased goal scoring is the quality of the goalies themselves. Goalies are very well coached and they are developed better now. Tragically, it's their talent that slows scoring.
Matthew (Austin, Texas)
Hi Mike!! Some people think goalies shouldn't handle the puck outside of the crease, what do you think about that?
Mike Modano (2:41 PM)
Well, our goalie probably passes the puck better than half our D, so ... I think we'd be against him staying in that net!
Joe , New Jersey
Hey Mike, you used to play for the old Minnesota team...does comming back bring back any memories. I am sure you still have a lot of fans in the area.
Mike Modano (2:45 PM)
It's certainly grea to be back here and to see something like this weekend and all the hype that surrounds it here in St. Paul just tells you how great hockey is in Minnesota. It shows how much they missed it while it was gone and they've proven why they were able to get hockey back here and they've really gone all out this weekend to make sure hockey never leaves this place again.
Mike, is the game overcoached these days?
Mike Modano (2:52 PM)
Yeah, I think you could say that. I mean, in the sense that it's very tactical now. 7 or 8 years ago we didn't even have VCRs to watch tapes and now they've got laptops and DVDs and they can track down your every move, so. Anybody can coach a great game by watching tape and telling you what you did and didn't do.
Hey Mike, you have amazing speed, great hands, and an awesome shot. In a sport were American players are becoming the minority, you are without a doubt a stand-out player. You have said how good it will be returning to St. Paul for the All-Star Game. What's your fondest Minnesota memory?
Mike Modano (3:00 PM)
Probably my most vivid memory is the first game I ever play in the league, that was right here against the Islanders. And then, obviously that whole playoff run in 1991, that was something special. We still talk about that -- us old players, whenever I see them -- the crowd in that building was just unbelievable. Every round it just got louder and louder.
Moderator (3:37 PM)
Hey everybody, welcome Blues defenseman Chris Pronger!
Jonathan (Rhode Island)
Hey Chris, how does it feel to come off an injury and immediately have team's defense riding on your shoulders?
Chris Pronger (3:56 PM)
Well, you know, I don't think anybody forsaw Al getting hurt in the third game of the season ... and then Chad got hurt around game 8 -- those are two pretty important pieces to our defensive puzzle so, yeah, that added some more minutes to my game. The bright spot here, I think is that we were able to see Christian Backman come into the fold and really show everybody what he can do.
Moderator (3:58 PM)
Chris, which surgery was harder to come back from, your wrist or your knee?
Chris Pronger (4:08 PM)
Oh the wrist surgery. It was harder to get the rotation back more than the strength. Not being able to have that range of motion to turn it over. For awhile there I was passing the puck and everything seemed to go left. I was slicing my passes -- just like my golf swing.
Jack (St. Louis)
Hey Chris, because of all those injuries (yours and your teammates) have you had to change your game in anyway?
Chris Pronger (4:17 PM)
Well, I think I've finally learned that I have to pace myself a little bit. About the first forty games, I was just jumping in there whenever I could and I started to get tired, it's a lot of minutes with not many days off. We had a stretch there with 6 games in 9 days. I think a little more downtime would improve the game from an energy standpoint.
Chris, you're the best! What's the atmosphere like out there at the All-Star game? Is it competative?
Chris Pronger (4:23 PM)
It's a lot of fun, it's really a show for the fans. Everybody is enjoying it, playing with different guys ... as you get on into the second period, and later in the game it starts getting a little more intense and then the sides start wanting to win, wanting to be ahead at the end. But all in all it's realy just a lot of fun.
Hey Chris, do you ever have time to play video games?
Chris Pronger (4:28 PM)
Yeah, I play Madden football. I try not to check myself out in any hockey games. I hope my skills are up to par these days ... if not, I may have to give EA a call ...
Moderator (4:36 PM)
Ok folks, here with us now is Bruins defenseman Nick Boynton!
Hey Nick, how's your first All-Star weekend? Go Bruins!!
Nick Boynton (4:39 PM)
I'm having so much fun. It's great to get a chance to spend some time with so many great players. You know what they're like on the ice but it's really rare that you get to chance to see that they're all pretty decent guys off the ice.
Nick, isn't it great to have guys like Marty Brodeur on your side for an evening?
Nick Boynton (4:44 PM)
Yeah, it's nice. I'm sick of facing Marty. He's so good, he moves the puck so well, he's like a third defenseman back there.
Timothy (Springfield, Mass)
Nick, congratulations bro! Are you going to throwdown in the skills competiton tonight or what?
Nick Boynton (4:47 PM)
Uhh, no not really. I'd like to avoid all the skills if possible. I'm not really so strong at anyhthing. I think I should stay away from any kind of puck handling ... or skating fast ... those aren't really my strong suits. I think I could get by in shooting. That's about it.
Sean (Cambridge, Mass)
Nick, how do you prepare for a game?
Nick Boynton (4:51 PM)
I really just sit by myself before a game and try to focus. We've got a lot of loud mouths... Hal Gill never shuts up! So I try to stay away from him but he happens to sit right next to me in the room so ... haha, he's tough to get away from.
Moderator (6:49 PM)
Hey everybody, we got a had a chance to ask young buck Rick Nash a few of your questions, here's what he had to say!
Mark (Madison, Illinois)
Hey Rick. Congrats! What's your take on the trapping nonsense. How did this all start?
Rick Nash (6:55 PM)
You know, growing up I don't even remember doing it until like Junior or maybe Bantam. But it's definitely part of the game now. Everybody does it when they are sitting on a lead or if the game is not going their way they'll just drop back into a trap. That's how it goes.
Hey Rick. What does a young kid new to the league like you do with all this CBA jargon?
Rick Nash (7:05 PM)
You know I just try and take in as much as I can. I love listening to the older guys talk about it but i don't really get too involved in it myself. I just let Bob do his job and try to absorb what i need to know in the meantime.
Nash, are you nervous about the CBA outcome?
Rick Nash (7:07 PM)
No, I'm not nervous about it, it's going to get done when it's gonna get done. I worry about the future of the game and doing my job, but that's all that is really in my hands.
Rick, how's your first All-Star game?
Rick Nash (7:16 PM)
It's been great. It's been everything I hoped for -- not that I had any idea what to expect -- but I'm having a blast.
Rick, you were injured last weekend, if this wasn't your first All-Star game, you think you'd be home resting right now?
Rick Nash (7:29 PM)
Yeah, sure, if I had been here several times before like some of the other vets, things would be different, but even with that said, my foot was already well and healed before yesterday. it's good to go and I'm happy I'm here!
Dale (Baton Rouge)
Rick, you're the best! What are your thoughts on the Richard Trophy??
Rick Nash (7:32 PM)
Well, I never thought I'd be in this position, I don't find myself thinking about it too much though. It's going to be hard to maintain the position to receive the trophy if all these other guys keep playing as well as they're playing, but it's unbelieveable honor and i'm just taking it game-by-game and shift-by-shift.
Nash, are you excited to hear taht the coaching staff is the same for team Canada?
Rick Nash (7:35 PM)
Well, i don't know if it bodes well for me personally, i think it's great for team Canada. I had a great time playing for those guys during the Olympics. I'll tell you a little later if it bodes well for me, personally. I hope so!
Moderator (7:40 PM)
Ok everybody, this was a lot of fun. Here's the story ... Tune in to the Youngstars game tonight at 8 ET on ESPN (about 20 minutes away!!) Then immediately follwoing that, we'll have a chat here with Bruins goalie Andrew Raycroft ... and of course, the Skills Competition will follow the game on ESPN as well! Enjoy the events. We'll see you later on!