High-tech puck, hometown hero dot game as one to remember NHL All-Star notebook; Fox brass, Bruins' Bourque; both excited by outcome


BOSTON -- The NHL went looking for a home run Saturday night and got it with a technically enhanced television broadcast and an All-Star Game that had everything from wonderful goaltending to a storybook ending.

The Eastern stars won the game, 5-4, when Boston's own Ray Bourque scored with 37.3 seconds left in the game.

The goal earned the 17-year veteran defenseman the MVP award, putting him in a class with legendary Bruin Bobby Orr, the only other defenseman to win the award in the game's 46-year history.

"This is the one I'll always remember," Bourque said. "Having my family and friends here, playing in my hometown -- having my 10-year-old son Christopher behind the bench with me -- I couldn't have written it better than this."

And neither could the NHL, because bigger than a thrilling finish to a good game is the television success of the computer-enhanced puck that glowed and took off like a streaking red comet whenever it was hit over 70 mph.

"We were extremely pleased," said Jerry Gepner, the Fox vice president in charge of field operations and engineering.

Longtime fans did not seem particularly enamored of the new puck called "FoxTrax," but a number of them, including ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, said they believed it would be good for new and elderly fans who have trouble following the action.

The league is trying to regain the momentum it lost last season during a lockout that cost it half a season, its 1995 All-Star Game and a great deal of impetus after the 1994 Stanley Cup playoffs won by the New York Rangers, and the puck technology could help.

"I think this was one of the best All-Star games," said the West's Sergei Federov of Detroit. "It had great goaltending, good offense, SuperPuck and a storybook finish. What more could we want?"

Just when Fox will use the SuperPuck again isn't clear. Lou D'Ermilio of the Fox production staff said the puck is a "work in progress."

Bondra calm, happy

Washington right wing Peter Bondra said he enjoyed this All-Star appearance even more than his first one in Montreal in 1993.

"I was so nervous there, I could not take it all in," he said. "I was so busy looking around at everyone and worried about how I'd do. This time, I could just enjoy being here and playing with these guys."

Bondra, who had a goal and an assist in '93, did not score this time, and had just one shot while playing on a line with Philadelphia duo Eric Lindros and John LeClair.

"It was enough just to be on the same line with them," Bondra said with a big smile. "I told them, 'You guys play and let me know what I'm to do.' "

If you missed it

East goalie Martin Brodeur of the Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils made 12 first-period saves and joined Patrick Roy as the only two goalies in the last 10 years to turn in shutout performances in a period. Roy did it in 1993 in his then-home rink in Montreal.

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