RALEIGH – The play-by-play recap of the Hockeytown Blog at the All-Star Game.
8:30 A.M. – After a busy night with the NHL SuperSkills competition, the alarm rings, as does the desire to sleep for five more minutes.
9:20 A.M. – The Wings staff is scattered throughout an area known as the Research Triangle and some are closer to downtown Raleigh than others. Unlike Saturday night when the quest for a cab bordered upon the impossible, the morning drive to the Raleigh Convention Center was serene and enjoyable.
9:48 A.M. – Check-in at the Media Center at the Marriott Hotel, where free copies of the local paper, boasting all of the All-Star coverage are available, along with cups of coffee.
10:12 A.M. –The first thing fans see as they enter the NHL Fan Fest is the NHL Store. As expected, Eric Staal sweaters are the popular choice, but we’ve spotted quite a bit of Team Lidstrom specific merchandise.
10:35 A.M. – As with most major NHL events, the Stanley Cup and all of the NHL trophies make the trek from the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. As a team employee, I had no desire to touch the Cup due to superstition, but fans lined the hall for a chance to pose with the most beautiful trophy in sport.
10:42 A.M. – There is a booth where fans can take a slap shot and then have it analyzed in super slow motion. One kid, sporting an Alexander Ovechkin jersey decided to shoot a knuckle-puck for the camera. He couldn’t have been more than 10 years old, which meant he wasn’t even alive when Keenan Thompson and D2 made the shot famous back in 1994.
11:00 A.M. – The only people with a bigger buzz than hometown heroes Eric Staal, Cam Ward and Jeff Skinner are the Carolina Hurricanes Storm Squad. While most teams have adopted some type of cheerleading team, the Hurricanes squad seems to draw a crowd everywhere they go. Most are students at nearby universities who have become die-hards through a pretty cool part-time job.
12:15 P.M. – Aaron Ward walks into the NHL Fan Fest as the best-dressed guy in the building. Ward won a pair of Stanley Cup titles as a member of the Red Wings and was a member of the 2006 Stanley Cup champion Hurricanes, scoring the first goal in their Game 7 victory over Edmonton.
12:30 P.M. – Got a call from a colleague who was on the golf course. It is a beautiful day in Raleigh with temps in the high 50’s and low 60’s. Meanwhile, chatter on the shuttle ride over to the arena is centered around an upcoming snowstorm expected to hit on Tuesday.
1:20 P.M. – The building won’t let media in until the top of the hour, which allows anyone with a camera ample time to explore the best tailgating scene in hockey. Fans are playing street hockey everywhere, as grills, pulled pork and the ribs are plentiful.
3:15 P.M. – Time to venture up to the auxiliary press for Team Lidstrom vs. Team Staal. The press box is located on the Club Level behind the Team Lidstrom net.
3:30 P.M. – The two teams hit the ice at RBC Center.
3:58 P.M. – James Taylor’s ‘Carolina in My Mind’ plays over the public address system as local celebrities welcome the crowd to North Carolina.
4:02 P.M. – Kids start a mock pickup game at center ice to start the introductions. There is a thunderous applause for all Hurricanes players and Team Lidstrom coach Peter Laviolette, who led the Hurricanes to a Stanley Cup title in 2006.
4:19 P.M. – The Canadian Tenors and Clay Aiken sing the national anthems. Aiken, a former American Idol finalist is a native of Raleigh.
4:29 P.M. – Eric Staal with a pretty good backhanded chance that is stopped by Marc-Andre Fleury. Alexander Ovechkin would score the first goal of the game a few seconds later.
4:42 P.M. – Down 4-0, Team Lidstrom gets on the board as Anze Kopitar lifts a backhander past Cam Ward.
4:52 P.M. – Matt Duchene ties the game at four, beating Cam Ward with a shot above the shoulder.
5:12 P.M. – The one thing about working the NHL All-Star Game from a Social Media perspective is that the game takes a back seat to engaging our fan base.
During the final 40 minutes of play, I ventured around the RBC Center chatting with Red Wing fans from across the country, many of whom are relegated to the TV package for most of the season.
It was tremendous to see Nick Connor Hamden, who posted a picture from the All-Star Fantasy Draft on our Facebook page, all decked out in Team Lidstrom gear. Then it was off to meet Matt Dettelbach, who had moved to the Raleigh area from Toledo and still continues to bleed red.
6:03 P.M. – The NHL unveiled all 30 Guardians to the RBC Center crowd and viewers watching from across the globe.
6:30 P.M. – Matt Duchene misses a penalty shot for Team Lidstrom, keeping the score tied at seven. Alex Ovechkin had thrown his stick on the ice in an attempt to stop a breakaway.
6:45 P.M. – Back to the concourse, this time to chat with the Social Media team responsible for the NHL’s Winter Classic promotion. The Los Angeles Kings mascot lightens the mood by mocking our hand gestures before agreeing to pose for a few photos.
6:55 P.M. – Team Lidstrom picks up a 10-9 victory over Team Staal. At this point, everyone with a media credential has moved downstairs to the NHL Media Workroom and is working on a story … or four.
After the MVP award is presented, the locker rooms are open to the press. There are hundreds of credentialed media members trying to jam into a room with players, their families, NHL staff and hockey equipment. The three Hurricanes All-Stars take to the podium down the hall, avoiding the chaos.
7:30 P.M. – After filming Lidstrom and teammates Matt Duchene and Steven Stamkos, it is back to the media workroom to upload pictures and videos.
8:15 P.M. – NHL staffers deliver the All-Star Post-Game Notes. Nicklas Lidstrom was a +7, Shea Webber has four assists and Flint, Michigan native Tim Thomas picked up a third consecutive All-Star Game victory.
8:20 P.M. – With the NHL Meetings taking place on Monday and Tuesday, getting a few hours of sleep is going to be imperative. Check out the numerous photos and videos on our Facebook and Twitter feed for a better idea of the All-Star experience. While we know many of you couldn’t make the trip to Raleigh, the hope was to make it feel like you were there in spirit.
Let us know how we did!