by SENShobo on 01/24/09 at 03:03 PM ET
Ten hours on a bus spread over twenty hours of day; not exactly the most uplifting travel conditions, especially when you hear that San Jose writers spent several hours less coming from the farthest corner of the League.
But, strangely enough, the city of Montreal wasted no time in lifting my spirits.
Even before I got off my bus Friday morning, I passed the massive posters, featuring both local heroes, as well as League draws like Kane and Crosby. Going to pick up credentials, you can’t walk within several blocks of du Centre Bell without seeing countless Hab-branded citizens, peering in awe at le Centre Bell, perhaps wondering if the players feel as excited to be playing with the top talents as they feel to witness eight lines, half a dozen defensive pairings, and six tenders of the highest caliber all working to make this weekend an event to amaze, and to help commemorate this 100th year of the most storied NHL franchise dans la belle province.
The players were made available to the media of course, but the mood was undeniably more relaxed; when else will the players be asked what their favourite video game is? There were a few serious moments, Lecavalier being asked constantly about the trade rumours with little reprieve. But largely you get more fun from the players, Thornton calling Luongo hot to multiple reporters, me walking by Doan as he discussed an hilarious cowboy hat story, and every player from the veteran Tkachuk to the youthful Kane reminding us that they cannot thank their families enough for getting them to this point. The celebs were out in force too, George Stroumboulopoulos hanging around to check out the stars from their media availability, Ronald McDonald about, and I must have been seeing things when an Alanis Morissette look-alike emerged from a subway station.
This morning was of course the practice for the ASG and YoungStars squads, and the arena was packed with fans. Seeing the elite NHLers taking shootout practice brought all the cries out from the crowd, basking in sheer delight to witness such skill. As the East roster was announced on the massive scoreboard, cheers rang out loudly for Lecavalier and St. Louis, massively for the Canadiens’ representatives, at the same time boos echoing for Heatley, Kaberle, Savard, Chara, Thomas, Vanek being the only divisional rival representative escaping the Bronx cheers. Even Carter took those lumps, fans likely not forgetting him from the playoffs last season, as did East coach Julien.
Oh yes, there was some other cheer that erupted as well, you might recall it, something about a rote chant, the word ‘ole’, I’m sure you know what I mean. But the mood was nothing but fan enjoyment. Ovechkin dancing on the scoreboard to the arena hip hop music (superman) before his shootout practice, and Carey Price being interviewed on ice for the fans in attendance making the first comment out of his mouth a heartfelt thanks to all those fans who brought him to this wonderful experience. Players skating around chatting, laughing with each other when days ago they had drive to defeat them at all costs.
Pure and simple, just in that practice, you could witness in the crowd and on the ice all the things that make our game great, something very special indeed, no matter what detractors will say.
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Native of Northern California. Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.
I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle. I watch, I react, I write it down.
My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked. I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind. When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom. It hasn't, I don't think it will. At all.
Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.
I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.
I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at email@example.com