This morning there was a morning skate, but I didn't get to see any of it because they had media availability at the same time, first Western Conference All-Stars and then Eastern. The YoungStars didn't have to go because they had theirs yesterday and apparently a couple of them took it upon themselves to make the morning skate optional too, namely Enstrom and Backstrom.
A few impressions. I really enjoyed listening to two guys talk: Tim Thomas and Vinny Lecavalier. When I wandered over to Thomas' riser, he was talking about bears -- real bears like grizzly bears, and bear behavior. Something about a hunting trip up north. I have no idea what got him on that, but it was the most off-topic I've heard any interview get yet. John Manasso then asked him to compare Marc Savard and Zdeno Chara. Thomas said they aren't anything alike, and seemed puzzled by the question.
Chara didn't need a riser, so he didn't stand on one. Marty St. Louis took advantage of his for sure. When he was asked who he was glad he was going to be playing with rather than against, he said "Chara. I think you know why." St. Louis looks a lot older in person.
Lecavalier was very thoughtful with all of the questions, which were many. He seems like a great spokesman. I asked which rookie he was most impressed with and he said Kris Letang (PIT). He also had nice things to say about Enstrom.
Best dressed would have to go to Ovechkin, in a silvery suit, Dolce & Gabbana belt and patent-leather pointy dress shoes. It was a lot of look for morning, but a little hair gel and he's ready for the red carpet.
I remarked yesterday about how much media was here. Even more showed up today. I saw Helene Elliott, Hockey Hall of Fame writer for the LA Times. She was one of only a couple women covering the game in the early days. Now there are too many women to count. I've never had any trouble at the NHL level because all the security people are so well-trained on who belongs where. It's in the minors that I've had issues, contrary to policies. Always the rent-a-cops, never players, coaches or leagues.
The Tennessean didn't feel it worthwhile to cover the weekend's festivities, despite Jason Arnott being named from the Predators, and it being a 3.5-hour drive. They also didn't cover the NHL draft in Columbus. I hear they do a poor job of getting to local events too, so I guess it is just dysfunction all around. MTV Canada, some Norwegian and Swedish outlets, and the Antelope Valley Press are here (I am not making that up), but not The Tennessean.
The nameplate behind Evgeni Nabokov had been papered over due to a misspelling. He lifted up the paper to see how they got it wrong: "Evengi". Everyone else had to look at it after he did.
The Buffalo News asked Brian Campbell a super-long question in which they stipulated facts and then asked him to comment. They apologized for the length and then let Campbell respond. "Yeah it was a long question," Campbell said. "What did you ask again?" He was serious too, he really forgot.
I'm sitting high atop Philips right now and they are practicing announcing the skills participants. They have a stand-in for each player and some can barely skate. This is pretty funny actually.