January 24, 2007
All-star onslaughtBriere drives off with MVP
By BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun
DALLAS - As Daniel Briere threw his gear into his bag in the dressing room last night, Dany Heatley turned to his old buddy and asked the all-star winger a question.
"So, do you think you can get your whole family into that truck?," said Heatley with a toothy grin. "Well, you might have to use that one for a date night with the wife."
While the fans flocked to the American Airlines Arena to see Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin in their first all-star game, it was Briere who took home the keys to a 2007 Dodge Nitro as the MVP with five points in the East's 12-9 loss to the West.
No, the East wasn't successful and Sidney Crosby was held pointless, but this was a laughing matter as Joe Sakic, Brian Rolston and Rick Nash all posted four-point nights. Still, it wasn't enough to ruin the goal and four assists by the 5-foot-10 Briere, who was voted in as a starter by the fans.
"I just came here to enjoy my week. I never thought I'd be leaving with a car," said Briere. "I don't think it has sunk. I don't think I fully realize what's going on. It's very exciting and I'm trying to enjoy every minute of it. I watched a lot of all-star games and I watched a lot of guys get MVP's. I feel fortunate to just be here and I got a lot of help from guys around me."
Traded for each other in the summer of 2005, Heatley and Atlanta winger Marian Hossa played on a line centred by Briere. Heatley and Briere are old friends from playing for Team Canada at the world championships and the trio combined for 11 points. Sure, it seemed odd to have Heatley and Hossa together, but they looked good.
"It was a lot of fun to be with these guys," said Hossa, who sat beside Heatley in the dressing room. "We had a good time and we were able to help our guy win the truck. That's a lot of fun and he's going to get a new set of wheels. Now, we go back to battling for a playoff spot against each other." Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff just thought they would make a nice combination.
"I put them together because of the past history between Heatley and Briere. They played together at the world championships and in the past, so there was some chemistry there," said Ruff. "But, this was a special night for (Briere). He's a good player and a strong player. He was able to get a lot of things done out there."
Many were wondering why Crosby was held pointless and Ovechkin only had one goal. They should have thrived in this format, but West coach Randy Carlyle admitted he tried to match centre Yanic Perreault up against Crosby, Ovechkin and veteran Brendan Shanahan whenever possible.
"I kind of said it as a bit of joke, but Perreault is such a good faceoff man, you want to have him out there in those types of situations. It really helps when you can start off with the puck," said Carlyle. "As for Crosby, I thought what showed here, is that in a game like this, you were able to see some veteran guys step up. Guys like Rolston, Nash and Perreault. They did a good job and they were even trying to get back for us."
Crosby laughed the fact he was pointless off.
"With 21 goals it would have been nice to get one," said Crosby. "But, it just wasn't meant to be. It was a lot of fun out there."