All-Star musings

Though I am not in Dallas for the All-Star festivities, that's not going to stop me from weighing in on it ...

The YoungStars game and the Skills competition, frankly, are boring and need some life. Behind six points from New Jersey's Zach Parise, the East defeated the West 9-8 in the Young Stars. Really little more than a mini-All-Star game. If anyone has any ideas how to spice it up some, let's hear them.

Summing up the Skills competition, I remarked to Kenosha-based blogstigator Chris Altruda that Chicago's Martin Havlat scored in the shootout competition and didn't injure himself.

Of course these competitions are little more than window dressing for the game itself, which you can read about here.

Since I am not in Dallas, let's look at some other issues ...

PENGUINS CONSIDERING HOUSTON: A group led by current owner and Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux will meet with Houston officials later this week about a possible move to south Texas, according to the Houston Chronicle's Web site.

Houston does have a hockey history. From 1965-69, the Apollos were the Montreal Canadiens' top minor-league affiliate until the Central Hockey League folded. Gordie Howe led the Aeros of the World Hockey Association to two Avco Cup -- their version of the Stanley Cup -- titles in six seasons before folding one year before the NHL-WHA merger.

Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, formerly the mayor of Philadelphia, said he may ask the NHL to step in and block the team's possible move if negotiations on a new building to replace outdated Mellon Arena break down.

Should the Penguins play in the Toyota Center, it's not immediately known what will happen to the Aeros -- now the top farm team of the Minnesota Wild in the American Hockey League.

Of course if the Penguins end up in Houston and keep their name, it may go down as the single biggest sports marketing faux pas since the NBA's Jazz kept their name after leaving New Orleans for Utah more than 20 years ago.

MORE OF THE SAME: The NHL will keep their unbalanced schedule intact for at least one more season because -- and I, for one, am shocked at this -- both sides couldn't come to an agreement how to fix the problem.

Under the current system, some teams are limited to visiting some cities once every three years. A two-thirds majority was needed to overturn the system, but the final vote was 19-11.

"I'm not suggesting that this is the schedule for the next 100 years," commissioner Gary Bettman said. "We're going to finish the cycle and have to decide what to do after that. ... We started something. We're going to finish it."

Hopefully next season, I will be able to see the New York Rangers play in the Midwest.

Bettman also said there are no plans to expand now. So much for those Saskatoon-Yellowknife previews I was looking forward to. Wonder if I can ever get those games on HGTV?

NEW THREADS: So, here are the long-awaited new jerseys and gear players will be wearing next season. Jason Blake of the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh phenom Sidney Crosby are modeling the new duds here.

According to The Associated Press, stretch fabric in the collar and stretch mesh in areas of the tighter jersey, including the underarms and back, provide additional range of motion and increased ventilation. There is also new water repellant technology, helping retain 75 percent less moisture than the current jersey.

The pants and socks also have been redesigned with lighter fabrics to keep players drier and cooler while adding durability to the uniforms. The pants also have about 60 percent more hip protection than the current pants.

Some have decried this as taking away the league's identity. This could ultimately turn out to the the NHL's version of new Coke or the NBA's ill-fated microfiber basketball. I'll wait till the off-season when I can see all 30 jerseys before commenting.

At $425 each though, I don't think I'll be expanding my collection anytime soon.

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