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Crosby beats Perreault

Sid the Kid handles Mr. Faceoff in NHL All-Star Game

Posted: Thursday January 25, 2007 1:46AM; Updated: Thursday January 25, 2007 1:46AM
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DALLAS -- So, the first Western Conference goal of the 55th All-Star Game was potted by Yanic Perreault. Not Gilbert Perreault, the Hall of Fame forward who at 56 could still score in an All-Star Game, but Yanic Perreault -- the journeyman forward who was unemployed the first month of this season before hooking on with Phoenix. Yanic's a good guy who's a nice year, but he got picked for the All-Star Game (his first, at age 36) because he's the best face-off guy on the planet. He wins 62 percent and some Einstein on the All-Star selection committee said to himself, now THAT'S what the fans want to see in a showcase like this -- a great face-off guy!

Perreault didn't stop at his ice-breaker. He had another goal in the second period (this is a guy who's never had more than 57 points in a season). And he kept hounding around at poor Eastern Conference goalie Martin Brodeur as if he wanted another one. Maybe Einstein was right.

It was all very exciting for the fans here in Dallas, many of whom had a couple of seats to stretch out on. (The high number of no shows was perfectly understandable, of course, given that a lot of folks had to be home to watch American Idol, or the Texas A&M hoops game, or the Weather Channel.) The fans who did attend got some big-league eye-candy. The West sent out a line of Joe Sakic, Rick Nash and Martin Havlat -- who played like Globetrotters. I'm telling you, just gorgeous puck movement at high speed (Sakic had four assists, Nash a couple of goals). Folks were standing up and clapping.

The biggest cheers went up each time Dallas' own Marty Turco (well, he's from Ontario, eh, but he plays goal for the Stars) made a save. I talked to Marty just before he went on the ice at SuperSkills on Tuesday. He was standing in the runway, all padded up, and I asked: "How are you doing Marty?" He responded, "OK, man. I've got this thing in my ear."

That "thing" was a little headphone that he wore in Wednesday's game so he could talk, mid-action, to the announcers in the booth on Versus. (Versus is not a planet. It is the television network the league plays on. But don't tell anyone.) I have no idea how it went because I was at the game and, like you, not watching Versus. But it's a very cool idea. (Announcer: "Marty is the puck coming at you?"? Turco: "Jesus! Yes.")

After the game, which the West won, 12-9, East forward Daniel Briere got named the game's MVP. This is because he had one goal and four assists and the hockey writers who voted on the award (I wasn't one of them) deduced that five points was more than four and so gave a brand new Dodge Nitro to Briere instead of to Sakic or Nash, either of whom was more deserving. Maybe the voters weren't watching the game either, busy studying up for the post-game math quiz. If they had been watching, they'd have known that half the reason the West won is that the East's players were spinning like dreidels after seeing Sakic and Nash go Kimmie Meissner on them.

The sad news for the folks on hand is that Sidney Crosby didn't score. "What a disappointment," he said after the game. But the good news is that Crosby went up against Mr. Face-Off himself, Yanic Perreault, a man twice his age and, allegedly, much savvier. Crosby beat him not once but twice on the draw. Now that is the kind of thing I like to see at an All-Star Game.