MIKE BROPHY The Hockey News I love the NHL's annual All-Star Game. I am quite certain that puts me among a minority of hockey fans, but I have always taken it for what it is: an exhibition of skill featuring many of the game's best players. Nothing more; nothing less. Yet every year around this time we hear from folks who hate the game; think the players should try harder and suggest numerous ways to make the game more interesting. To which I say: How would you like the best player from your favorite team to be injured in an otherwise meaningless game and, in doing so, hurt your team's chances in its run toward the Stanley Cup this spring? You want body checks? Then be prepared for injuries. That is a fact of life. For me, I like seeing skilled players try little things they may never try in a game...or only in a shootout. I like the opportunity to see Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin skating on the same line, with Daniele Briere who had a run-in with Ovechkin earlier this season. You can bet on Wednesday night, Ovecvhkin and Briere will be all smiles when they enter the eastern Conference dressing room. The All-Star Game is a chance for the NHL to schmooze with its sponsors, to give a little something back. It is a chance for young players to share the same room, and same ice, with older players who they idolized growing up. It is a chance for players, in the midst of a long, grueling season, to have a little fun. I have been to NHL all-star games in New York, Montreal, San Jose, Boston, Florida and Vancouver and loved each and every one of them. Although I won't be in Dallas Wednesday night, you can bet I'll be watching on TV and loving every minute of it.
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