RALEIGH NC - JANUARY 29: Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Team Lidstrom arrives at the NHL All-Star red carpet part of 2011 NHL All-Star Weekend on January 29 2011 in Raleigh North Carolina. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
As I'm sitting here in the auxiliary press area watching the arena people play with the lighting, here are some thoughts about the All-Star Weekend so far.
- The NHL goes all-out for this. And I mean, all-out. The press, which has a love-hate relationship with the league, is being catered to - literally. All of this free food is going to result in some poundage. Or, it would if we weren't all running around everywhere.
- The players are awesome. There's not a single one that all pouty and trying to put on a good face for the public. They all look like they're genuinely enjoying themselves. And they've been very generous with their time with the press and the fans, too.
- The rookies look a bit overwhelmed, but completely excited at the same time. The All-Star veterans are having a great time, too. Nicklas Lidstrom has this great big grin on his face whenever I've seen him. Marc-Andre Fleury looks like he's trying not to laugh all the time. And Steven Stamkos has a smile plastered on his face like a kid on Christmas Day.
- You could probably hand Eric Staal a microphone and just sit back and let him take care of the publicity stuff. He's definitely been a great spokesman for the Carolina Hurricanes - as has Cam Ward. Jeff Skinner, the hands-down fan favorite here, and the local media have been jockeying for position to get his attention.
- I walked into RBC Center yesterday and came upon Three Doors Down's sound check. That was pretty cool. They sound really good live. They apparently have a new album coming out in April.
- For all that Lidstrom is the captain of an All-Star team, he's more than happy to let Martin St. Louis do the talking. About half the time, St. Louis will be doing the captaining duties, which is interesting since Patrick Kane is also an assistant. Kane doesn't seem that interested in it, though. Staal pretty much just does things all himself.
- Tim Thomas is such a regular looking guy, that I doubt his own mother could find him in a crowd.
- While I know that I had problems trying to put names with faces for the rookies and some of the younger guys, I'm doing better than most. A lot of the media have no idea who's who without a jersey on. It's kind of sad, really.
- I saw Barry Melrose yesterday, and all I could think was if it'd be bad form to spit on him or not.
- Everyone seemed to have had a good time with the Skills Competition. Part of the reason why I really enjoy those things is to see who's hanging out with who near the benches. Alex Ovechkin chatting with Marc-Andre Fleury was interesting. Carey Price chatting with Henrik Lundqvist was pretty.
- Most of the guys on the red carpet were dressed fairly conservatively. Lundqvist wore a long jacket, which was kind of cool. Dustin Byfuglien wore a plaid jacket that made me wonder if he'd been talking to Sean Avery. P.K. Subban looked good and had on a very nice tie. Stamkos was wearing an awesome blue suit. No one else really stood out to me. (I'll have my pictures up early this week.)
- The media have all been very helpful with each other. Everyone's got their deadlines, and people all want to be in the best place to talk to the guys they're interested in, of course. But everyone's been very respectful of each other and the players.j
- It's been very busy, but very fun. Soo glad that I got to go. I wish that I haven't had the technical issues that I've had, so I could ask player questions, but such is life. I've been able to write and take pictures, at least.
Next up: The All-Star Game.