Players can use game to get hot start to second part of seasonPosted: Saturday February 02, 2002 1:27 PM
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Teemu Selanne wants to get off to a fast start in the second half off the season.
The NHL All-Star Game on Saturday might be the spark he needs.
"It can give guys a little boost," said Selanne, who has struggled this season. "You can get some confidence and see how others are doing."
Selanne has just 16 goals and 16 assists with San Jose, but that didn't keep the noted car lover from thinking about winning the All-Star MVP award and the vehicle that comes with it.
"If it's a [Dodge] Viper, I might try a little harder," he said.
Selanne got off to a good start, coming from well behind in anchoring the World Team to a photo-finish relay victory over the North American team in the SuperSkills competition Friday night.
His former Anaheim teammate Paul Kariya also is looking for a strong outing in the wide-open exhibition game.
Kariya has just 19 goals and 18 assists for the Mighty Ducks, who with 47 points are the league's fifth-worst team.
He also has his sights on the automobile.
"If you're struggling going into the game, it can loosen you up and get you back to playing well," Kariya said. "I'll bet if you win that car, it gives you confidence in the second half."
Kariya also kicked off the weekend the right way, winning the individual puck control event Friday for the fourth straight year.
The two players, pals and Mighty Ducks linemates before Selanne was traded last March, went out to dinner after the Skills event.
Selanne and Kariya were pleased to be at the All-Star Game -- neither had to travel far -- but some other players had gripes.
Washington's Jaromir Jagr was exhausted from a six-hour flight across the country and is worried fans in the Czech Republic might think 'it will be easy' to defend the Olympic gold medal in Salt Lake City.
"You cannot change it, of course, but it's tough to fit everything in -- the 82 games, the All-Star Game and the Olympics," Jagr said after Friday morning practice at the Staples Center. "There's not much time to do it."
Jagr's Czech teammate, Detroit goalie Dominik Hasek, also said he was against having an All-Star Game.
"This schedule is already so loaded that I don't think it's a good idea," he said. "This is only my opinion, but I think there's enough for the fans to see with the Olympics going on this season."
He still called it a 'big honor' to be chosen and didn't consider turning down the invitation, as some others essentially did.
Dallas' Mike Modano and Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson, among others, said they were leaning against attending -- if chosen -- because of fatigue and nagging injuries. They were subsequently left off the roster.
"Some guys secretly asked out of it," admitted Detroit's Chris Chelios.
But Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux, making his 10th All-Star appearance, called it an "obligation" for the game's best players.
"It's not that hard of a game, obviously," he said. "It's more: Come here for a couple days, enjoy yourself, play the game and put a show on for the fans.
"It doesn't take a lot out of you. If the guys are healthy and are feeling good, they should be here and be part of it."
Or, as Philadelphia's Jeremy Roenick, put it: "If you can't get energy from this kind of spotlight or atmosphere you should check your blood pressure. You might be dead."
First-timers Jarome Iginla, Mark Parrish, Joe Thornton and Mike York were wide-eyed and smiled broadly during interviews.
"To be able to play with [Joe] Sakic and Lemieux -- it's just great to be here," said Calgary's Iginla, tied for the league scoring lead with Vancouver's Markus Naslund. "I watched all of these games when I was younger."
York, of the New York Rangers, said he felt like he was going to his "first training camp all over again," when he saw some of the faces in the dressing room.
"It's one after another, too," he said.
The game also could have some use for the Olympics.
North American team coach Pat Quinn, also the coach of Team Canada, said he'll use the game as a kind of Olympic practice.
"We'll experiment a bit with line combinations," the Maple Leafs coach said. "We'll use the Canadians together and that means the Americans will play together."
Hasek checked out his competition in the Skills event.
"It was a lot of fun, and it's interesting," he said after tying Colorado's Patrick Roy in winning the goalie competition by stopping five of six shots. "If I look at who is going against me in the shootout, I saw some players I would see in the Olympics."