RALEIGH — Eric Staal has lifted the Stanley Cup in victory for the Carolina Hurricanes and won an Olympic gold medal for Canada.
Being named the MVP of the 2008 NHL All-Star Game in Atlanta may not have quite the same thrill value, but it did earn Staal both added recognition in his sport and a 2008 silver Dodge Journey truck to keep.
Staal, playing in his second All-Star Game, had two goals and assisted on the winning goal as the East held off the West 8-7.
Still, he wasn't sure he'd be the MVP. Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets did have a hat trick for the West, and Staal said he was a little surprised to receive the award.
"The neat thing about an All-Star Game is the whole experience of meeting guys you play against on a regular basis, just being in the locker room," Staal said last weekend. "It's pretty relaxed. Guys are laughing, having fun and enjoying each other.
"But when you get to the game, it was actually a pretty competitive game in Atlanta. There were a lot of goals, and we scored in the last minute to win the game. When it got down to the end it got a little faster pace and more uptempo than other ones I've been a part of."
Staal's first goal tied the score 1-1 and his second tied it 7-7 with 7:25 to play in the third after the East squandered a 5-1 lead and fell behind. With 21 seconds left, Staal went behind the net to grab the puck and passed to Brian Campbell, who then fed Marc Savard for the winner.
There was much speculation after the 2008 game about what Staal would do with the Dodge truck. Give it to his parents, Henry and Linda, back in Thunder Bay, Ontario? Give it to one of his brothers?
"I still have it," Staal said, smiling. "I gave my other vehicle to my parents.
"I kept the truck. You always need a pickup. I drive it almost every day to the rink."
Who knows, he may drive it Sunday to the All-Star Game, as a pleasant reminder.