Rob Blake trying to focus on the now
Updated: Saturday February 03, 2001 6:22 PM
By Robert Rodriguez, CNNSI.com
DENVER -- No one, including all the Avalanche players, had more reporters around him than the Kings' Rob Blake.
The topic -- his future and where he might play next.
"I don't know what will happen with this," Blake said. "I just have to play my game and go at it 110 percent to help my team. Right now, I'm a King and doing everything I can to help them win and get into the playoffs."
It's hard to tell by the standings that the Kings have been affected by the Blake trade talks. Although in 10th place in the Western Conference with a 23-21-7 record, Los Angeles is 6-4 in its past 10 games. But his teammate, Ziggy Palffy said it is taking its toll on them.
"Most of it is his personal situation but it also affects us in someway," he said. "You wonder whether or not he's going to suit up for us and if he is traded, who will be joining us. It's better for us to keep out of it, but when the media starts asking you questions about it all the time, it grows on you."
Palffy was traded to the Kings from the Islanders after the 1998-99 season and said players are more comfortable if they know their situation.
"If you know you're getting traded or staying with a team, you play a whole lot better," he said. "Your head is much clearer and you maintain focus."
Both agree it will be difficult to play against one another if Blake is traded. "It'll be tough if I play against Ziggy, Luc [Robitaille], Jamie [Storr] and the rest of the Kings," Blake said. "I've played with many of these guys for quite awhile and have a lot of good memories of playing alongside them."
More Media MadnessWhat takes all day during the Super Bowl is a two-hour affair in hockey -- media day.
Hordes of reporters with cameras, tape recorders, microphones and PDMs all gathered to ask questions ranging from the adequate to the absurd.
Palffy was asked if he has Troll dolls or any special trinkets in his locker. The Bruins' Jason Allison was asked if he would turn down a chance to represent Canada in the Olympics. Duh!
But when Mario Lemieux entered the interview area, all heads turned to him. As he walked with his two sons to his podium, the press cleared a breezeway for him to walk, as if they were the Red Sea and Mario was Moses.
Thirteen players, including two rookies, are making their All-Star debut this weekend. Being selected into this elite group has had a different effect on the players.
"I'm a little nervous right now," said the Flyers' Simon Gagne. "It's tough being with all these awesome guys. But my teammates told me to forget about doing too much out there, relax and have a good time."
The majority of players were soaking up the festivities rubbing elbows with other elite players.
"For me, this is an amazing experience," said the Bruins' Jason Allison. "I wouldn't trade this for anything. I'm having such a good time with these players, picking up some pointers and just seeing them in action."
Players also had some interesting options in case they were not selected in the All-Star Game.
"I would try to get my family here to watch the game, but it's hard to get tickets," said Sharks' goalie Evgeni Nabokov. "If I couldn't get tickets, I'd probably take to San Francisco or somewhere like that."
"I would be fishing in Tampa," said the Lightning's Fredrik Modin. "The fish are biting right now."
Advice from an old friendColorado goalie Patrick Roy offered some advice to Canadiens fans regarding the sale of the franchise to American George Gillett.
"He's a great man and he will do well," Roy said. "He's been to a couple of Avalanche games and I've had the chance to talk to him several times. But many in Canada don't know him."
Gillett led an unsuccessful attempt to purchase the Avs a year ago before buying 80.1 percent of the Montreal franchise and all of the Molson Centre.
"He's aware of the hockey tradition in Montreal," the former Hab netminder said. He loves hockey and he will do everything possible to bring back that winning tradition."
It's gonna be a tough day
The All-Star storyline always is the same -- everyone has fun and looks good in the games, except for the goalies.
With so many shooters on each team, the game usually is a high scoring affair. In the past four All-Star games, the scores have been 11-7, 8-7, 8-6 and 9-4.
"It's not an easy task being an All-Star goalie," said Phoenix's Sean Burke. "I'll be happy if only two goals get past me when I'm out there.
The Sabres' Dominik Hasek, who has played in five All-Star games, had to be the "fatherly figure" for the two rookie goaltenders on the World team.
Those little fellas
Be on the lookout both tonight during the telecasts of All-Star Saturday and tomorrow's game for the Bud Light commercials featuring the Bubble Boys, the red and blue toy men from the hockey foosball game.
The commercials feature the toy men and the adventures in signing a big contract. Wayne Gretzky plays the commissioner of the "Bubble Boy League", and Phil Esposito plays the players' agent.
"It was fun making those commercials," Gretzky said. "Although, I was stuck in an office on most of those spots and Phil was lounging in the pool."
Bud Light has become the official sponsor of the Bubble Boy League, a contest pitting the top players in foos-hockey against one another. The finalists will win a trip to the Stanley Cup finals and play for the title.
Quote of the day
"I feel like a kid now." - Philadelphia's Simon Gagne, the youngest player on the All-Star rosters at 20 years, 11 months and 26 days old, on how his reaction to seeing other superstars.