NHL All-Star Game was decent hockey — not as entertaining as UA Pioneers Friday — The Denver Post

Avalanche teammates Nazem Kadri and Cale Makar and the rest of the NHL’s Central Division stars beat their Atlantic Division peers 8-5 in Saturday’s 3-on-3 preliminary tournament in Las Vegas.

Kadri and Makar each had two points – one each on Kadri’s breakaway goal off Makar’s takeaway/stretch pass to give Central a 3-1 lead.

It was good hockey — if you don’t mind watching the skaters spin at half speed and the goaltenders get dry.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t as entertaining as the University of Denver’s victory over St. Cloud State by the exact same scoreline Friday night at Magness Arena. The Pioneers’ 8-5 triumph was probably as good as it gets by any standard.

But the NHL reigns supreme and nonetheless put on a solid show at T-Mobile Arena – including the pre-championship game hosted by Machine Gun Kelly.

The Metro Division beat Central 5-3 in the title match – a scoreline few fans will remember. Kadri finished with three points (two goals) in the two 20-minute games. Makar had two assists in the first and none in the second. Av coach Jared Bednar went 1-1.

The first NHL All-Star Game since 2020 was all about good hockey.

Remember Pat Verbeek, this pest of the Dallas Stars and Detroit Red Wings from 1996 to 2002? Avalanche players and fans hated this guy – the only player in NHL history with over 500 goals and 2,900 penalty minutes.

Verbeek has Hockey Hall of Fame credentials and, having worked as Steve Yzerman’s right-hand man in Tampa Bay and Detroit since 2012, he thinks he’ll do well as the Anaheim Ducks’ new general manager.

I sat next to Verbeek and chatted with him about eight years ago when he was monitoring a DU game as the Lightning’s assistant general manager, then at the start of last season without fans present at Ball Arena when he was assistant general manager of the Red Wings (you were happy to talk to anyone during intermission).

I asked Verbeek if he would be in the Hockey Hall of Fame if he wasn’t born in Canada. I looked at his career and his 522 goals are the 33rd most of all time and he’s tied for 71st with 1,062 points. He’s tied in scoring with New York native Joe Mullen, who retired in 1997 as the highest-scoring American in NHL history.

Mullen, who won a Stanley Cup with Calgary and two with Pittsburgh, became a first-round Hall of Famer in 2000.

Verbeek, who won the Stanley Cup with the Stars in 1999, did not answer my question. As a journalist, he probably thought I would make his comments public. But I was just interested as a fan. Avs fans hated that guy, but I thought he was that hard-nosed player that every team wants on your team. He was tough as nails, all 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds from him, and that should add to his HHOF credentials.

Verbeek, from Sarnia, Ont., is the second Canadian I’ve written about who would likely be in the Hall of Fame if he were born south of the Canadian border. Former Colorado resident Pierre Turgeon was the first. “Turge” had seven career goals less than Verbeek but 264 points more. Turgeon ranked 34th all-time in NHL scoring and is the only retired player with 1,327 points do not in the HHOF.

If Turgeon weren’t Canadian, he’d probably be an easy pick for the HHOF. Likewise, with Verbeek, it wouldn’t be an afterthought.

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