The Dallas Stars hockey team is sending a teenage rookie to the league's All-Star Game Saturday night. The 19-year-old phenom from Finland is the team's only representative at the game this year.
It's morning practice at the American Airlines Center, the Dallas Stars' home. Pucks fly as skaters scrimmage and slide swiftly across the ice at scintillating speed. From a distance they may all look the same. They're not. Defenseman Miro Heiskanen stands out. Just ask teammate and defenseman John Klingberg, himself a former All-Star.
"To see where he is as a 19-year-old already," Klingberg says, "that’s pretty unbelievable, because that just makes you think and realize how good he's going to be in a couple years. I would say he's one of the best skaters in the whole world already."
That great skater first hit the ice when he was 2. The Stars drafted Heiskanen just a couple years ago. It usually takes longer to reach the top, moving up through the pros. But Heiskanen's there now — the rare teen All-Star in his first season at the NHL level.
"Of course it was a little surprise," Heiskanen says, in his tentative English. "I think I've played pretty well this season so it wasn’t that big, but of course a little bit."
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) January 23, 2019
The NHL All-Star Game is tomorrow night in San Jose, California. Heiskanen's teammates encourage him to enjoy it and have fun meeting the league's other superstars, some of whom Heiskanen looked up to as a kid not too long ago.
NHL All-Star Game begins at 7:15 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, with the Central Division vs. Pacific Division. Beginning at 8:15 p.m., the Metropolitan Division takes on the Atlantic Division. The winners of each divisional game play for the win at 9:45 p.m.