All-Star Game provides opportunity for camaraderie between players

NHL players get to know each other away from the fierce competition.
Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos, left, talks with New York Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist during the skills competition, part of the NHL hockey All-Star weekend, in San Jose, Calif., Friday, Jan. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos, left, talks with New York Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist during the skills competition, part of the NHL hockey All-Star weekend, in San Jose, Calif., Friday, Jan. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Published January 27

SAN JOSE—Players have a chance to interact on a different level at the All-Star Game. They’re in the same dressing rooms together. They can chat on the benches and between events, not in fierce competition.

Those opportunities make the event special.

Buffalo’s Jack Eichel enjoys the time with players like Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, seeing that one of the league’s top stars is really just a normal guy.

For Lightning coach Jon Cooper, the best moment of all-star weekend was sitting in the dressing room before the game between the Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions.

The two teams shared the visitor’s dressing room in the SAP Center at San Jose. That in itself is an obvious departure from a real game. The banter flowed in a relaxed, fun atmosphere.

As they watched the Central beat up on the Pacific, the players reacted in sympathy for the Pacific players, especially Anaheim goaltender John Gibson.

“(You see) how much the players really care for each other,” Cooper said. “That was a really touching moment for me. The thing about coaching this game is you get to see the human side of all the players that you go against all the time.”

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