MONTREAL -- The best players in the land were converging here this evening for the NHL All-Star Game, which will double as the 100th anniversary celebration of Canadiens hockey. The place has been picking up speed since I arrived shortly after 5. It took me more than an hour to reach my hotel from the airport because traffic was so heavy. The cabbie said it was double its usual volume at that time.
It's a good sign.
What comes from this weekend should be interesting. The NHLPA was voting on whether it should exercise a clause that would re-open the collective bargaining agreement. It would be a major mistake considering the financial state of the game. The players are making too much money to risk getting into another Battle Royale with the owners.
Otherwise, we'll see what happens. There's a board of governors meeting here, so that should stir up some trade talk. It would be nice if the Sabres were involved, but history suggests they'll stand pat until the trade deadline approaches. They're desperate for a defenseman. You never know when GMs get together, but Sabres fans shouldn't get their hopes up.
PatLaFontaine must be in town. There's a news conference for Companions in Courage, so it looks like he'll be opening up another high-tech playroom for kids in one of the hospitals here. He's a class act, LaFontaine, and he continues to give back long after he retired. He wasn't a bad player, either, the last time I checked.
Funny thing happened when I was in line, waiting to check in to the hotel. The lady working the desk was finishing up with a guy with a Wild sweatshirt and said, "merci.'' His reply: My name isn't Percy. It's Dave. Good heavens, dude, you're in Quebec.
I'll bring you updates as things progress this weekend. OK,I'm getting a little thirsty. I wonder if there are any places in town that serve beverages.
--- Bucky Gleason