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Rocky Bonanno | NHL.com Staff Writer
Jan 30, 2007, 10:06 AM EST


An NHL All-Star for the first time in his 13 year career, 35-year-old Yanic Perreault was a natural fit for the "Geriatric Gala" held at American Airlines Center in Dallas last week.

In a game hyped for it's "next generation" surplus of fresh, young faces, Perreault and the likes of Bill Guerin, Teemu Selanne and Brian Rolston -- veterans with a combined total of 54 seasons in the NHL -- each had multiple-point games to lead the Western Conference to victory in the 55th edition of the mid-season classic.

"That's right, we had some old legs. But I think we had a lot of fun. That's the main thing," said Perreault following the contest. He scored goals in the first and second periods, and was a plus-five with four shots on goal in 15:59.

Oddly enough, Perreault, the NHL's leader in faceoff percentage six seasons running, went only 6-for-15 (40 percent) in the All-Star Game.

Perreault also participated in the SuperSkills Competition, going 4-for-6 in Accuracy Shooting and taking a turn in the In the Zone event.

Too bad there isn't a faceoff event for Perreault to be favored in.

"I wish they would. Maybe they will add it if you guys keep talking about it," he said with a grin. "It would be something different. Every skill is exciting to watch."

For Guerin, Selanne and Rolston, it was a case of "been there, done that." But Perreault's was a different case. On the one hand, he was one of 20 first-time All-Stars. But he also represented the old guard, having been a veteran of 776 League games with five different organizations before gaining recognition as a steady performer worthy of skating amongst the NHL's elite.

"I'm very excited to be here and didn't expect it at all this season," he said the day before the All-Star Game. "No, I didn't have to cancel any other plans to be here. It's a nice honor to be chosen to come here, especially starting the season coming off a surgery. It's been great so far. I sure didn't expect this after 13 years, my first time coming here."

It was an unlikely scenario for Perreault, who missed the first month of the season rehabbing from sports-hernia surgery. To compound the situation, he was suddenly without job security after his 2005-06 club, the Nashville Predators, signed Jason Arnott as a free agent and traded for Josef Vasicek. But Yanic didn't panic. He worked out on his own and monitored the situations of teams around the League that might need the service of a veteran center. He was rumored to be in the sights of several clubs, including Tampa Bay, Chicago, the New York Islanders, and Calgary.

On Oct. 29, Perreault signed with Phoenix, which began 2006-07 with a dismal 3-9-0 mark, last overall in the NHL. After Perreault was inserted into the lineup on Nov. 3, the Coyotes went 19-15-2 leading up to the All-Star break. As usual, he led the League in faceoff percentage (62.2 percent), but provided some clutch scoring as well. Five of his first 15 goals had been scored with five minutes or less remaining in regulation. He netted five power-play goals and four game-winning goals, and he was second in the NHL with a 23.7 shooting percentage.

In Phoenix's first game after the break, Perreault duplicated his All-Star performance with two goals -- these of the third period, clutch variety -- to erase a 4-2 deficit and help Phoenix earn a 5-4 shootout win in Colorado.

"I came to Phoenix because they needed help," said Perreault, who is on course for his seventh 20-goal season. "I thought they were the best fit for me, not because I thought it would lead to the All-Star Game."

As for his explanation on Phoenix's turnaround, Perreault deflected attention away from himself.

FULL STORY
 
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