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Canadiens to play host to 2009 all-star game, eye outdoor game same week

The Canadian Press
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Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price reaches out to make a save agaisnt the Toronto Maple Leafs during first period NHL hockey action Saturday, April 5, 2008 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson Author: The Hockey News

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Canadiens to play host to 2009 all-star game, eye outdoor game same week

The Canadian Press
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MONTREAL - The Montreal Canadiens will play host to the NHL all-star game and the entry draft at the Bell Centre in 2009 as part of the club's 100th anniversary celebrations.

Bill Daly, the league's deputy commissioner, also confirmed that the Canadiens have asked to play a regular season game outdoors in the same week as the all-star game, although the NHL has yet to decide whether to give it approval.

The all-star game is to be held Jan. 25, 2009. It will be the 13th all-star game to be played in Montreal. The draft will be held in June the same year on dates yet to be determined.

Daly, who attended the unveiling of the all-star logo on Saturday with Canadiens owner George Gillett and team president Pierre Boivin, said there was a fear that outdoor games would lose their lustre if held too often.

The league is believed to be looking already at holding an outdoor game somewhere in the United States that year.

"It's not something we want to overdo," he said. "We want to keep it special.

"We will have to see how it fits into our broader strategy on outdoor games. But if ever there was an opportunity to look at two outdoor games in one year, certainly this would be one of those."

The Canadiens took part in the first outdoor game, the Heritage Classic in Edmonton in 2003, while another was held in a football stadium in Buffalo on Jan. 1 between the Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Both games attracted huge crowds and television ratings.

Montreal's plan is to hold the game at Molson Stadium, the home of the CFL Alouettes which has only 20,202 permanent seats, fewer than the 21,273 indoor places at the Bell Centre.

"We would not be looking to set an attendance record, but just to compliment the events on all-star week," said Boivin.

"For us, it's not a question of revenue. It's to hold a really special celebration."

The plan calls for the outdoor rink to up for an entire week, so other events could be held there as well.

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Canadiens to play host to 2009 all-star game, eye outdoor game same week