2011 NHL All-Star Weekend: And one more thing....

RALEIGH NC - JANUARY 30: Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning prepares to compete in the 58th NHL All-Star Game at RBC Center on January 30 2011 in Raleigh North Carolina. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Here are a few left over thoughts from the NHL All-Star Weekend:

  • It was really hard to watch the game live. On TV, it's easy to sit back and expect nothing. I mean, this is the All-Star game, after all. No one plays defense, no one makes penalty calls - heck, goalies barely play goal. But in person, it was more like a regular game, and I really wanted to complain about no one playing defense. Which is bad form, since you're not supposed to cheer for anybody in the press box.
  • Jeff Skinner is the anti-Crosby. Sidney Crosby, when he came into the league at 18 years old, was so controlled in how he acted and what he said that it concerned people. Depending on who you talked to, either he was a dreadful bore, he was going to go postal, or he would eventually crack and go herd goats in Mongolia. He's loosened up quite a bit since, but at first it was rather worrying. Skinner, on the other hand, is a relatively normal 18-year-old with no personal filter. Which means that he doesn't always say the right thing, and can be repetitive with his "golly-gee-whiz" answers, but you always know what he says he genuinely means. And that's very endearing.
  • Speaking of Crosby, I kept looking around and wondering how much crazier it would've been had he been there. And I just couldn't even wrap my head around that. Not sure it could've been much crazier.
  • I was having audio issues all weekend, so I didn't get any quotes. That annoyed me to no end. I had plans - big plans! - that just never happened. After the actual All-Star Game itself our SB Nation Hockey fearless leader, Travis Hughes from Broad Street Hockey, loaned me his digital voice recorder. He was going to use his video recorder, so he didn't need it. Thus, I was able to get in a question with Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos - who were both awesome. But I never got the audio from that. Sooo yeah...that really didn't work out for me, even still.
  • I did manage to take a bunch of pictures and a couple of videos on my digital camera during the Skills Competition, though. I completely forgot a camera going into the dressing rooms, though. But that's probably for the best, anyways. It was all PG, but no one was looking their best.
  • Before the end of the All-Star Game, a group of media headed down towards the locker rooms to line up. I was standing behind TSN's Darren Dreger, and in front of Marc Crawford, head coach of the Dallas Stars, and former NHLer Matthew Barnaby, who was either with TSN or SportsNet, I think.
  • I went to Team Lidstrom's dressing room first, and it was mobbed. It was so full that people were waiting in the hallway to get in. Not that it took much to get that room full, since it was rather small. I've been in bigger dressing rooms at public rinks than the away dressing room at the RBC Center.
  • Walking into the dressing room - along with the rest of humanity - I was looking for Brad Richards, St. Louis, and Stamkos. Conveniently, they were all sitting together. Richards slipped out before anyone could trap him with questions, however. It was unfortunate since I'd wanted to ask him a couple of questions, but Brad looked rather overwhelmed by everything all weekend, too, so that was understandable. Stamkos also tried giving everyone the slip, but Marty wouldn't let him.
  • It sort of hit home that the Tampa Bay Lightning are doing well while I was in the dressing room. It really clicked for me when The Hockey News wanted to do a brief interview with both St. Louis and Stamkos. Then again when we were talking to Stamkos, after talking to St. Louis, when TSN stuck in a microphone to get some quotes. This wasn't a couple of guys on a team that was struggling that only the local press wanted to cover. This was a fantastically good team that all of the major sports news outlets wanted some soundbites about. Sometimes, it's the weirdest little things that makes it all suddenly real.
  • What struck me the most about the whole dressing room scene was how respectful the press was with each other. No one was elbowing each other, people moved to make room for others, no one talked over one another so that everyone got to take a turn answering questions. It was rather polite and nice, actually.
  • I was trying to find Travis, who writes about the Philadelphia Flyers, and didn't see him in the Team Lidstrom dressing room. Since the Flyers had a guy on each team, I decided to go looking for him in the Team Staal dressing room - otherwise known as the Carolina Hurricanes locker room. That place was spacious; and they didn't have so many members of the press hanging out in it. There were guys actually in suits when I walked in, which was crazy since most of the guys in the other locker room hadn't showered when I left.
  • Eric Staal, Cam Ward, Jeff Skinner, and Jamie McBain all had their own press conference in a room down the hall from the locker room. That might've been why there weren't a lot of press in there. That, and people love winners. I walked out behind them as they were going to their own special little press conference.
  • All weekend, all I'd really wanted to do is to sit down with a goaltender or two and ask them what the point of them attending the All-Star Game was. Goalies usually don't have a lot to do for the Skills Competition, and they're often shelled for 4-6 goals a period during the game itself. So what's in it for them? Due to my audio issues, that didn't happen. Which sucks, since I'd had Cam Ward and Henrik Lundqvist camping out in front of me - both Friday night before the Fantasy Draft, and again on the red carpet. Marc-Andre Fleury was pretty available as well, and the rest of the goalies sort of lurked around, but were within a reasonable distance to call them over. Ideally, I would've had a little goalie summit on the state of goalies playing in the All-Star Game. Such big dreams, and nothing came of it. Oh well....

Overall, it was a good time. I enjoyed meeting fellow bloggers that I'd know just online, and I got to experience the NHL All-Star Weekend in a way I thought I never would - as a member of the media. Never having been to one of these things before, I have no way of comparing it to any others. But I can say that as events go, this one was well done. There were nothing lacking, no serious lapses, people knew where they were going and what they were doing. And in that way, it was definitely a success. I'm so happy that I got to go, despite not being able to talk to anyone that I'd wanted to.

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