Fred Shero, who will coach the Campbell Conference team in tonight's 31st National Hockey League All-Star Game, would like to see two changes. He wants a different format and he wants to see some hitting, which would be a radical change indeed from recent contests. The contest will be televised on a delayed basis at 1 a.m. on WDCA-TV-20.
Shero-coached Campbells have been in the soup three straight years, since they first were matched against the Prince of Wales Conference. Shero supports a return to the traditional setup, discarded after 1968, in which the Stanley Cup champion played the all-star team, and he looks favorably on a proposed scheme to have the all-stars play a three game series against the Soviet National team.
"There has to be more for the fans to root for," Shero said today. "A Russian series would be more interesting for the fans as well as the players. They might say they didn't care, but once it goes they want to win. They have to win."
An all-star vs. Soviet matchup would solve two problems facing the NHL, indifference of some teams and their fans to recent international competition and the difficulty of turning the Campbell-Wales ice ballet into a hit.
There have been no major penalties in all star competition since 1953 and little in the way of body contact, as the participants try to avoid injury before rejoining their anxious teams.
"I personally would like to see more hitting," said Shero, whose Philadelphia Flyers have used muscle to capture four straight Campbell Bowls, as conference regular-season champion. "Hitting is part of the game of hockey and it's just as important as skating, stickhandling or shooting."
Sureying his roster, Shero noted that "it looks like they all know how to check, which is important."
Scotty Bowman of Montreal, coach of the Wales team, said, "I don't think it will be a physical game, but there will probably be more checking. You really can't tell until the game starts how it will go."
"You just can't fix this game like you can wrestling," Shero said.
The Campbells, dominated by six Flyers and five members of the New York Islanders, certainly can't expect to match the Wales entry in finesse.
Seven members of the Montreal Candiens, including Guy Lafleur, Yvan Cournoyer and Steve Shutt, will perform for the Wales, along with Marcel Dionne of Los Angeles, Gil Perreault and Richard Martin of Buffalo, and Darryl Sittler and Lanny McDonald of Toronto.
On defense, the five-man Wales contingent lists Borje Salming of Toronto, Brad Park of Boston, Reed Larson of Detroit and Larry Robinson and Serge Savard of Montreal.
"That's a very good defense," Shero said with a straight face. Then, asked about the Wales' apparent overall dominance in personnel, he said, "If they continue to win, it might show they're superior. It can't be luck all the time."
In an effort to end his side's losing streak and brighten ex-president Clarence Campbell's retirement, Shero will issue each team member a mimeographed letter, explaining how he wants the game played. This will be followed by a blackboard session and a brief skate.
"Before we had no system and players stayed on the ice too long," Shero said. "That was my fault. This time we'll have a basic system and I'm going to watch the line changes closely."
Bob Sirois, the Washington Capitals' all-star representative, will skate at left wing for the Wales team, with Dennis Maruk of Cleveland at center. Either Jean Pronovost of Pittsburgh or Terry O'Reilly of Boston will be the right wing.
The Wales team has 13 forwards, since Pronovost was selected as Pittsburgh's replacement for injured defenseman Dave Burrows.