By TOM JONES and DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published February 8, 2004
ST. PAUL, Minn. - One would think Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina would be a little more grateful to the man who gave him his first job in the NHL.
But when Kubina ran into former Lightning coach Jacques Demers at Saturday's All-Star Weekend festivities, he recalled a two-week span in his first full season (1998-99).
"You sent me to the minors for two weeks," Kubina joked with his old coach. "I was so mad at you."
Demers smiled and said, "Yeah, but it was for conditioning. You needed to get in shape, especially up (in your head)."
The two-week stint didn't derail Kubina's career, which reached a pinnacle last week when he was named to the All-Star team.
"I knew all along that Kuby was going to be a special player," Demers said. "I thought he would be the quarterback-type back there on defense, and that's what he has sort of been. But what has impressed me most is his defense. No doubt, this guy is a special player."
ANDREYCHUK'S ADVICE: Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk gave an important piece of advice to teammate Martin St. Louis: Enjoy your second All-Star experience to the hilt.
"The first one you don't know what to do. You don't know what to expect," Andreychuk said. "But the second one, I really enjoyed."
Andreychuk played his second All-Star Game in January 1994 at Madison Square Garden as a member of the Maple Leafs. He said his contract gave him a $15,000 allowance he easily exceeded when he flew to New York as many members of his family as wanted to go.
"I passed that along to Marty," Andreychuk said. "And he's doing the same thing, flying everybody in. It's not just about him. When you get to that plateau there are a lot of people there who helped him get there. They should all enjoy it."
Andreychuk laughed recalling when he walked into his parents' room at the Four Seasons and saw his father playing with a switch for the window curtains.
"The curtains kept opening and closing," Andreychuk said. "He said, "This is living.' It was nice to see him in that atmosphere."
Of the entire weekend, Andreychuk said, "It was awesome."
LABOR PAINS: This weekend is supposed to be a celebration of hockey, but the dominant theme seems to be the thundering clouds of a work stoppage in the distance.
With the Collective Bargaining Agreement set to expire Sept. 15, the union and league are digging in for what could be an ugly work stoppage that could wipe out a season.
"That would be awful," Montreal defenseman Sheldon Souray said. "The only thing you can hope is that there is a lot of time to go and that things will work out before then."
As optimistic as anyone involved can be.
"We're ready for a battle if there has to be a battle," Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom said.
Commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners are growing frustrated with the union.
"Until the union is ready and willing to acknowledge and address the economic problems we're having," Bettman said, "the negotiations are not going to progress."
SUPER SKILLS: Kubina thought he had a chance of winning the hardest shot, and St. Louis thought he had a crack at being fastest skater. Both came up short.
Kubina was one of three to crack the 100-mph mark, but his shot of 101.2 was not enough to hang with Souray and the Islanders' Adrian Aucoin in the skills competition. Souray and Aucoin had slap shots of 102.2 mph.
New Jersey's Scott Niedermayer won the fastest skater competition, one lap around the ice, with a time of 13.783. St. Louis finished third among six skaters with a time of 14.069.
Philadelphia's Jeremy Roenick won the shooting accuracy contest by hitting four targets on four shots.
YOUNG STARS: In the YoungStars game, Anaheim's Joffrey Lupul had a hat trick in the Western Conference's 7-3 victory against the Eastern Conference.