Hartford Whalers captain Ron Francis is a veteran All-Star performer and, as such, had some sage advice for Buffalo Sabres rookie center Pierre Turgeon.
Turgeon had just scored his second goal, late in the first period of Sunday's NHL All-Star Game, leaving him one behind local fan favorite Mario Lemieux with plenty of time to play.
"I told him he still has a shot at the car (awarded to the most valuable player), but that he better lay off. I said, 'I don't think you would ever get out of here alive without a police escort and I'm not sure they would give you one.' "
Sabres defenseman Phil Housley gave Lemieux, the MVP winner, a little nudge about the car.
"I was standing there when they gave him the keys and I told him to make sure to tell them about the one I set up," Housley said.
Turgeon, who normally wears No. 77, wore No. 17, defering to veteran Ray Bourque, who wore No. 77. Housley wore his No. 6, Sabres winger Dave Andreychuk his No. 25 and Sabres goaltender Daren Puppa his No. 31.
Housley was paired with Bourque for most of the game. The two also saw the most time on the ice the few times the Wales Conference was on the power play.
Francis, normally a center, played on the left wing with Turgeon. Andreychuk, normally a left winger, moved to the right side.
Turgeon received a flashy bunch of new sticks from Titan before the game and used them in the game. The all-black sticks were done up in hot pink lettering, a natural eye-grabber when Turgeon got to lift his stick after a goal on national TV.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly attended the game and was a post-game visitor to the Wales stars' dressing room. Kelly, a guest of Housley, was quoted that he was a great fan of Lemieux.
"He is awesome," Kelly said in comments distributed by an NHL spokesman. "I grew up loving the Penguins and the Steelers. I am a Buffalo fan now because I live there and I go to a lot of their games. A lot of Sabres come to the games (football) in Buffalo and a lot of the football players really love the game of hockey. (Cleveland Browns quarterback) Bernie Kosar was here today as well and we really enjoyed it."
There were a smattering of boos for Wayne Gretzky when he was introduced. Pittsburgh fans never have accepted the fact Gretzky won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player over Lemieux last season. Most of the sellout crowd quickly moved to drown out the boos and many actually gave Gretzky a standing ovation.
Gretzky said he was not surprised nor put off by the boos.
"When I was 10, my father took me to Maple Leaf Gardens (in Toronto) and they booed Bobby Orr," Gretzky said. "My dad said, 'Never mind, it's a sign of respect in another team's building.' I took it as that."
Lemieux fell one short of matching Gretzky's record of four goals in one period (third period, Feb. 8, 1983 at Long Island). Lemieux had a chance at that mark in the closing seconds of the first period, but Calgary goaltender Mike Vernon made a save on his final offering.
NBC announcer Marv Albert will have a blooper to add to his collection for his next appearance on Late Night with David Letterman. The anthem singer hit the ice and immediately lost his footing. He scrambled to his feet but fell again and eventually had to be rescued by a security guard. Albert made his own faux pas, neglecting to introduce Steve Duchesne, the Los Angeles Kings defenseman. Duchesne eventually worked his way onto the ice and took a spot in the pregame lineup.