MONTREAL — Yesterday during the player introductions prior to the Honda/NHL Super Skills at Bell Centre, the longest ovation came for Tampa Bay center Vincent Lecavalier, a Montreal native and a player rumored to be someday soon on his way to the hometown Canadiens via trade.

The PA announcer even paused before going on to the next player in order to let Lecavalier feel all the love.

Well, just minutes ago the NHL continued the Lecavalier love-in by naming him as an All-Star starter for the Eastern Conference in place of injured Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby for tonight’s NHL All-Star Game. This means that defending league MVP and leading goal-scorer Alexander Ovechkin, who didn’t win a fan vote to originally earn the starting spot, has been snubbed again.

Talk of a possible Lecavalier trade to Montreal even came up during a press conference with some the greatest players in Habs and NHL history this afternoon. Jean Beliveau and Guy Lafleur were asked how they thought Lecavalier would fare under the microscope formed by the Montreal media and fans.

“I always thought the pressure was part of (being) a professional athlete. I’m sure that Vincent can handle it very easily,” said Beliveau.

“Also I think he has pressure playing in Tampa,” added Lafleur. “He still has pressure there to produce and perform. And playing in Montreal, I don’t think it would be any change, except the public would be behind him and it would improve the quality of the game for the Montreal Canadiens.”

MK: Any time the words Lecavalier and Canadiens come up in the same sentence, the Boston Bruins’ collective ears have to be raised. If the Habs can bring the superstar to town without tearing apart their current NHL product, they’d become the Bruins’ No. 1 challenger for Eastern Conference supremacy.