Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Doug Miller on 09/12/11 at 01:00 PM ET
Well HockeyFest 2011 has come and gone. Nether myself, nor my assistant for the day, my good friend Mike, lasted the entire event, as we were both exhausted by 3PM. So, after I got home around 4PM, I passed out until about 11:30PM. Then I woke up and started sorting through all of the media I had gotten, which took a few hours in itself.
Anyway, for a full recap of Saturday’s event from my perspective, continue reading.
Note: I know this was supposed to have been posted yesterday, but Paul overruled me on it, and suggested we save something like this for Monday, so it doesn’t get lost in the weekend posts.
The original plan was for Mike to come over to my house at around 9:30AM, so that we would have plenty of time to get everything together and get down to the Joe well before the doors opened. However, as he had been working the midnight shift the night before, and apparently has some major car trouble on his way back home from work around 6AM, so didn’t show up at my house until about 10AM. As he put it to me at the time “It was a long morning”. Anyway, I was passed out when he showed up - sitting up in bed with my Xbox 360 controller still in hand, as well as my headset still on, as I had been working on my NHL 12 review the night before, and once again, as has been the usual for the past week or so, I fell asleep while playing.
I quickly got all of my things together, got changed, and then we borrowed my aunt’s car to hit the road. I asked Mike to drive so that I could update the Twitter feed, that, and I was still only half-awake at the time. Somehow during our process of talking while driving down to the Joe, both of us failed to see the exit off of I-75 North for the Joe. So we had to loop around a bit, and get back on 75 South, but we eventually made it there.
Then, after I cleared up the parking mess, I grabbed Mike’s ticket from Will Call, which I had ordered the night before under my name, then I grabbed my media credentials for the day (thank you again Paul). Then we headed inside, and tried to figure out what we should do first. We peaked inside the rink, to check out what the “main floor” looked like.
Main Floor of HockeyFest
I know the floor looks sparse in that photo, in terms of people, but that’s because most people at that time were in very long lines hoping to score Datsyuk or Lidstrom autographs. Speaking of which, after we peaked in on the main floor, we decided to take a tour around the concourse. First thing of note we saw? This:
Pavel Datsyuk singing autographs
We then decided to jump into the Datsyuk autograph line, but soon upon realizing how it was setup, which had people filling rows of the upper bowl to wait, and considering we were about 18 rows up, we quickly decided to ditch the line, as we’d be there for at least an hour, and I had so many other things to cover still. So we headed back down to the concourse and continued our tour.
The following were our noteworthy stops for photo ops.
Drew Miller (left) and Patrick Eves (right) signing autographs
Tomas Holmstrom singing autographs
The 2008 Stanley Cup Banner along with myself
Dino Ciccarelli singing autographs
Note: Just after I had taken that photo of Dino, he had a quick break in fans, as they got the next grouping ready, at which point Mike took the time to point out to Dino that Datsyuk had full-size water bottles at his table, while Dino only had little baby half-size ones. For the life of me I can’t remember Dino’s response, but it was pretty funny at the time. Anyway, onwards with the photo tour of the concourse.
Myself and Al the Octopus, whose eyes actually don’t glow like that, it was just the result of the crappy digital camera on I had on hand, but Mike and I both thought it looked awesome
Nicklas Lidstrom singing autographs
I was also able to grab a short video of Lidstrom singing a few things. I got a few other videos of some other big names singing, but this was the only one that came out any good.
Next, we decided to check out how bad Lidstrom’s line was… which was just as long as Datsyuk’s. So after a few minutes of sitting and talking it over, we decided to ditch that too, as there was still a ton of coverage I had to get to. Soon after getting back down onto the concourse, we caught a few more players at their singing tables.
Henrik Zetterberg signing autographs
Mike Commodore signing autographs
Also, this next one came as we were on our way out of HockeyFest, but I figured I should throw it in now, as I want to save the best stuff for last.
Jan Mursak singing autographs
Next, we hit up the Lock Room Tour. Which I got some good videos of, since we were fist in line in our group. Enjoy.
Part 1 - The walk down the back halls of the Joe
Oh, and in case you didn’t catch what Mike and I were talking about in the beginning of this clip, as we came down the stairs and took a left, as I was getting the camera ready, he had supposedly spotted Ken Holland walking around to our right. Although I would think Holland would be up in TC to watch the prospects tournament. Anyway, on to part two of the tour.
Part 2 - Inside the Wings’ Locker Room
Of course, I grabbed plenty of pictures too…
Helm and Bertuzzi’s Stalls, and a mysterious “Red Wings” one in the middle
Gordie Howe’s picture, one of many that surround the upper part of the Locker Room
White, Kronwall, and Commodore’s Stalls
The 11 Cups that are represented atop the far side of the Locker Room
Myself in front of Zetterberg and Filppula’s Stalls
Close-up of some sticks that line one side of the hall leading to the Locker Room
Gordie Howe’s Plaque - one of many that line the other side of the hall leading to the Locker Room
The sign above the door leading out of the Locker Room
Then Mike and I made our way out to the main floor of HockeyFest. He had to go to the bathroom, so I took some time to grab a bunch of photos of some of the historic memorabilia on display on the main floor.
One of the two Wings’ Zambonis
Kris Draper’s gloves from ‘03-‘04
Darren McCarty’s skates from ‘02-‘03
Kirk Maltby’s helment from ‘03-‘04
Joey Kocur’s sweater from ‘97-‘98
Chris Osgood display
Close-up of Osgood display, including stick from 50th shutout, and pads from 400th win
Osgood’s Vaughn V4 trapper
Osgood’s 400th win team photo
Osgood’s iconic Cooper mask
Original Gordie Howe game-worn sweater
Lidstrom sweater from 2008 Playoffs and skates from 2006 Olympics
Original Six display with team history, past and present
Red Wings “old-time” display
Close-up of “old-time” display
Norris Family Patch - worn the last year before the team was purchased by the Ilitch Family
The old Frank J. Murphy Trophy for most goals scored during the season, used from ‘45-‘67
Brett Hull game-worn sweater and gloves
Brendan Shanahan sweater worn while scoring his 500th goal in 2002
Jimmy Howard’s trapper from last season, and puck from Ken Holland’s 1000th game as GM in 2010
Jimmy Howard’s blocker from last season
Mike Vernon’s backup mask worn during 1997 Playoffs
Greg Stefan’s mask from ‘89-‘90
2009 Winter Classic Display
Old-time hockey skates from various eras
Old Winnipeg Jets puck
Kansas City Scouts puck (sorry it’s a bit blurry)
California Golden Seals puck
Hartford Whalers puck
Minnesota North Stars puck
Zetterberg game-worn sweater
Holmstrom game-worn sweater
Phew… now that all that is done, I can get to some of the fun stuff. As our next stop was to hit up each of the “interactive fun zones” which were essentially watered down skills competitions or drills. It was essentially Mike vs myself. Although I figured he would have the edge on me, although we are both extremely out of shape, and our actual hockey skills are beyond rusty, unlike our virtual ones in the EASHL. He has the advantage in the fact that he spent his young playing career as a forward, while I was a usually playing goalie… and there were no types of goalie activities.
Anyway, first up, hardest shot. 3 shots to see how high you could register on the radar gun. I let Mike go first.
They actually let him take a 4th shot since his third hit the post and didn’t register, but it still didn’t top his best of 49.9 MPH. Which wasn’t bad compared to most people we watched while in line. As for my video, Mike accidently screwed up the recording, so I don’t have it. Which is okay with me. As I never got much higher than the low to mid-30s. Probably because of the two right handed sticks they offered me, one was too tall and the other was too short. I took the tall one though, and on my first shot, the stick caught the upper safety netting at the top of my wind up, which screwed up my follow-through. So then I had to move a step back, off the carpet and with one foot on the synthetic ice being used for all of these zones. So I felt like I was never really able to get much of a good shot off.
Next up, the “Deflection Zone” which as you’ll see, totally screws any former hockey player that was actually fairly good at passing. As you have to slide the puck under a plexiglass guard, and then hit one of the sticks with ramps in order to attempt to hit an open part of the net. Again, I let Mike take the first crack at this one.
As I was saying, and Mike and I talked about afterwards, despite that we were both thinking “pass” the entire time, the majority of our shots just nicked the very bottom of that front plexiglass, as we both have that natural tendency to get a little bit of air under our passes. Although if you watch my video again, I clearly got robbed on my second shot, which looked like it was dead on for that top left corner. Also I apologize for Mike’s shotty camera work, as he doesn’t have 10 years of experience in the field of filming things like I do, but he did much better with the next area though, the “Dangle Zone”. Which was pretty much a puck-handling drill, as you had to go from side to side sliding the puck under a small opening indicated by lights. This time I chose to go first, as I had a good idea for the shot I wanted to get of Mike running the drill.
As you can see, I don’t have the best hands, at least not when it comes to puck handling, give me some goalie gear and it’s a different story. Although, if not for a few tiny mistakes near the end I would have had it within the time limit. Anyway, I wanted to see if Mike had the hands to match his EASHL dangle skills, and he did not disappoint, as you will see.
Not nearly as good as his virtual hands, but if the puck hadn’t rolled on him before the final part, he would have crushed it, probably in under 20 seconds. Personally, I’d like to see how Datsyuk would do with this drill, haha.
Our last stop was the “Sniper Zone” which is the one I was most looking forward to, since it was just a simple “hit the open areas of the net” shooting drill. Plus, in my little time spend as a skater, I always had a pretty accurate shot, although as any hockey player will tell you, trying to shoot well without gloves and the proper size stick is quite a challenge. Mike wasn’t looking forward to this for some reason, as I don’t think he was confident in his accuracy, so this might be my one chance to best him.
However, as we made our way over to the line for that, we noticed something strange, as massive mob of people near the entrance to the line for the Sniper Zone. It was hard to tell from behind, but at first glance I thought it might have been Zetterberg, given the longer hair and beard I could make out. Then, just as I remembered that Hank had recently cut his hair shorter (as seen in earlier photos) Mike chimed in “No, it’s Kronwall”.
So I handed him the camera and told him to be ready to film, as I knew I could easily weave my way through the mob of people using my very slender frame. After a bit of an understandable wait, Kronwall finally turned in my direction, and thanks to Mike’s comedic genius, this moment led to being the highlight of HockeyFest, for us at least.
I know it’s hard to hear exactly what is being said, but thankfully I usually have an excellent memory, and the transcript of the short exchange is as follows:
Mike: Hey Kroner, can I get a Havlat impression?
Kronwall: I don’t know what that is.
Mike: The “thousand yard” gaze…
Kronwall: (still grinning and trying not to laugh)
Mike: Missed it while you were in the box, huh?
Kronwall: I was not… I was in the locker room.
Oh, and if you don’t get the joke… we were referring to this infamous/controversial hit from the 2009 Playoffs…
Video clip courtesy inklinkinklink’s YouTube channel
After that, we got back into line for the Sniper Zone, and watched Kronwall take on a fan one on one, which I also have video of, but due to the angle I was at standing in line at the time, it didn’t really come out too well, which is why it isn’t posted. Although Kronwall won 1-0. Shortly after watching that, Mike and I were both kind of feeling the need for a nicotine fix, so we headed back out to the car. Once we got to the car, and took another look at the Kronwall video, then we started talking, and agreed that we were both exhausted and very hungry, and didn’t feel like paying for overpriced food at the Joe.
At which point, I told him we could just call it a day, as I got most of the things covered that I wanted to, aside from some of the Q&A sessions at the Olympia Club, although by that time of day, most of them were over with. So then we took off and headed back to Wyandotte. As I said, I passed right out, and slept for a pretty long time before waking up to compile this massive recap, which took me all morning to get done, as I had a ton of media to sort through.
Anyway, sorry that I missed a few things. I don’t feel my coverage was quite up to my own standards, although it was humanly impossible to cover everything going on, I did my best, and having Mike with me was a tremendous help at times. I still feel that I could have done a bit better though, but I usually hold myself to impossibly high standards.
Although I didn’t get everything in that I wanted to, HockeyFest was still a wonderful and fun couple of hours. I’m very grateful that I got the chance to cover it in George’s absence, and I hope you enjoyed what I was able to get.
Now I’m hard at work on my NHL 12 Review for tomorrow. Which I’m sure I’ll also feel won’t be up to my own high standards, but I know many of you are looking forward to it, so I hope it comes out at least half-way decent.
On a side note to that, I’ve gotten a pretty overwhelming response to the amount of people who are interested in joining KK’s EASHL Club System that I’ll be running. So much so, that I’ve already had to go ahead and setup the Primary Farm Club, which has been dubbed “Team Katana” and also given their own custom uniforms, logo, and colors, as to differ from “Cluster Pucks” which is the Main Club. This was done so that I can hopefully find room for everyone with a roster spot and playing time. As the list of players requesting to join the Club System is quickly approaching 30. Although for the time being there isn’t a Main Club roster set, I just have these two Clubs to accommodate all of the players who want to join. Expect to hear more about this later in the week once I get things sorted out and we get our training camp and pre-season rolling.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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