Former Jets get loudest cheers

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

Last night's Hockey Hall of Fame Legends Classic game at MTS Centre was a free-wheeling, wide-open affair that resulted in 14 goals (Canada 7, Russia 7).

Last night's NHL game on the press box TV was a free-wheeling, wide-open affair that resulted in 14 goals (Ottawa 10, Buffalo 4).

And that's a statistic that would make hockey legend Lanny McDonald quite happy, because he is a big fan of the new-look NHL.

"I actually like it," the man with the wild mustache said prior to last night's charity game. "First of all, to let the stars shine the way that they should, it's exciting again. It's more wide open.

"There'll still be a feeling-out process, and it may kind of settle down a little bit, but to get the hooking and holding -- and literally tackling -- out of the game is wonderful.

"I don't even mind the shootout. It keeps everyone in their seats."

Valeri Kamensky, who scored 200 goals in the NHL between 1991 and 2002, is also happy to see the new rules, although they arrived a little too late for him.

Kamensky went so far as to say that he and Paul Coffey, for example, might still be playing in the NHL if obstruction had been banned back in the 1990s. He said the hooking, holding, clutching and grabbing that plagued the "dead puck era" took a real toll on his body.

"Every European player would like (the new rules), because that's the style that they played before, like in Russia, Sweden, Finland," Kamensky said.

McDonald had a quick response when asked about NHL coaches who are complaining about the effect the new rules are having on hockey.

"Their team must not be playing well," he said with a smile.

Speaking of playing well, the legends weren't moving as quickly last night as they did in their prime, but they still put on a good show for the 4,000 or so spectators who showed up.

The crowd saved its loudest cheers for former Winnipeg Jets Dale Hawerchuk, Thomas Steen, Dave Ellett and Bobby Hull, who coached the Canadian side.

Geoff Patterson attends every legends hockey game that comes to Winnipeg, but the addition of the Russians, including Summit Series participants Alexander Yakushev, Viktor Kuzkin and Valeri Vasiliev, made it even more attractive this time around.

"It's good," Patterson said. "I haven't seen a lot of these guys play before.

"It's good to see some of them skate. I know a lot of them can't skate anymore."


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