by Kim Mueller || AHL On The Beat Archive
The American Hockey League, coaching staffs and fans voted three of the Manchester Monarchs’ leading scorers to participate in the 2008 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Reebok on January 27-28, 2008, in Binghamton, N.Y.
The Monarchs leading scorer, rookie right wing Teddy Purcell, will represent his native Canada and center Gabe Gauthier and Manchester’s top defenseman Peter Harrold will represent PlanetUSA at the two-day event.
“It’s a big honor (to be named to the All-Star Classic),” said Harrold. “It’s not something you necessarily play for each night but it’s a privilege to be recognized. I think opposing coaches have a vote and it’s nice that they think so highly of us.”
Within days of getting the news that he was going to be a starter for the Canadian team, Purcell made his National Hockey League debut with the Los Angeles Kings. Purcell played in five games with the Kings prior to the All-Star break, recording an assist for his first NHL point in Thursday’s 3-1 win over Anaheim.
Even in the midst of being an NHL player for the first time in his life, he still thinks about the upcoming AHL All-Star Game.
“I didn’t think about it before it happened but to be named to the event and as a starter is a great honor,” explained Purcell as he checked into his hotel with the Kings in Calgary for last Friday’s game. “It’s nice to be recognized by the team, the league and the fans. I’m eager to represent Canada and Manchester in a couple of weeks.”
On his NHL debut on January 15, Purcell had the same emotions most players have in their first game.
“It was pretty special for me,” explained Purcell. “I was nervous but once I got out on the ice for a couple shifts and got settled in, I felt pretty good.”
To Gauthier, he feels the same way as his fellow teammates but he also put the achievement into perspective by looking at the previous All-Star players that he’s following.
“I’m excited to be named to the All-Star Classic,” said the native of California. “I read that 93 percent of participants make it to the NHL. It’s an honor to be among the top players in the AHL.”
Harrold, Purcell and Gauthier will have a whirlwind two days at the All-Star Classic filled with appearances, gatherings with fans, the Skills Competition and the game. Gauthier is hoping to participate in the accuracy shooting event in the Skills Competition as that’s his go-to event while Harrold is more interested in being a spectator.
“If I had to choose one skills event, I would say the skating event but I have more fun watching the other players participate,” said Harrold.
As the AHL’s leading defenseman and two-time All-Star, Harrold’s advice for his teammates as they embark on their first All-Star Classic is to “relax and have fun. This doesn’t happen for you every year.”
Harrold represented PlanetUSA in the 2007 AHL All-Star Classic and collected two assists in his team’s 7-6 victory over the Canadians. This is the first time that Harrold and Gauthier will be pitted against teammate Purcell for a little friendly competition.
“It’s going to be fun (playing against them),” said Purcell. “We always have friendly competitions in practice but this going to be better. I’m sure we’ll put dinner or something on the line.”
“I’m interested in playing against Teddy,” Harrold explained. “I’m looking forward to beating him.”
Gauthier has had a pretty good first half of the season. He is second on the Monarchs squad with 39 points (13-26=39), he made his NHL debut with the Kings on Dec. 3, he was named to the All-Star Classic, he scored his first professional natural hat trick on Dec. 29 and he became engaged to his girlfriend. When asked if the second half of the season could be better than the first, he didn’t think about himself, he focused on the team.
“The team could go unbeaten,” Gauthier said. “We’ve had our ups and downs this season but we’re playing strong now and we’ve gotten back on track.”
The Monarchs have three top players representing Manchester and their native countries in the 2008 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Reebok this weekend. All three are honored to be recognized for their achievements and look forward to playing well for everyone that voted for them and the city of Manchester.