The curiosity of rivals turning teammates makes for part of the attraction at any All-Star Game.
The partnership of Larry Robinson and Glen Wesley on defense for the Wales Conference Tuesday night in the 40th NHL All-Star Game has distinction beyond the fact that a Montreal Canadien is paired with an arch-rival Boston Bruin. Robinson, the veteran star of the Canadiens in his ninth All-Star Game, will join the Game's youngest player, the Bruins 20-year-old making his first All-Star appearance.
"I guess you will have to look at it as the new and old," Wesley said. "Larry is very experienced in All-Star Games . . . and he is leading his team to first overall in the (Adams) division. It will be exciting to play with him."
Robinson recalled his first All-Star appearance in 1974 when he was named a replacement player early in his career with the Canadiens.
"I was scared stiff just sitting around and watching Phil Esposito and all these great hockey players," said Robinson, who has only been on the losing side in an All-Star Game once. "Now I don't think about it that much other than it's an apportunity to meet some of the guys I bang heads with all year long."
From the opposing Campbell Conference, Edmonton's 20-year-old Jimmy Carson is the youngest.
"To be in it at 20 is something I think I'll always remember," said Carson. "It's such a thrill for me."
Campbell Conference Coach Glen Sather of Edmonton kidded Robinson at the All-Star Game news conference Monday as being "older than I am" but complimented Robinson for being selected again.
"Larry is a terrific example for the young players that say they're going to play until 30 years old and retire and take it easy. But hockey is a game that gets in your blood . . . you love it, learn to live with it and it takes a great competitor to play as long as Larry has. He looks like he is 19, not 42."
The Edmonton Oilers, winners of four of the last five Stanley Cups, are the host team in this 10th anniversary year of their entrance into the NHL. The 1,900 guests associated with the All-Star Game were to attend a magic show and gala banquet Monday night.
But the city was buzzing over the return of former Oilers superstar Wayne Gretzky, who was traded to Los Angles and his reunion on a line with Jari Kurri for the All-Star Game.
Sather said he will play Luc Robitaille of the Kings, who led fan balloting in the Campbell Conference, with Gretzky and Kurri.
"Jari and Wayne have been one of the best one-two combinations this league has seen for a long time and I think they'll be excited with that idea," said Sather. "Is that O.K. with you Jarri?" he asked a grinning Kurri.
The game also will feature the first American-born brothers ever to play in the same All-Star contest. Joey Mullen of the Calgary Flames and his younger brother Brian of their hometown New York Rangers were named reserves.