RALEIGH, NC -- The first day of NHL All-Star Weekend was centered around the NHL Fan Fest in Raleigh, with puckheads attending both a street fair and an impressive festival inside the Convention Center.
The primary motivation for many of the fans inside the Fan Fest was attempting to score tickets to that night's Fantasy Draft, including this Carolina Hurricanes fan's plea.
Meanwhile, outside ... sledding?
The best part about the sledding was that the end of the run was right near a brick oven pizza cart whose slices tasted of ketchup but felt great as a late-night snack.
Coming up, photos from inside the Fan Fest; of some All-Star Game merchandise; a memorable player's watch; video of Inglorious Backes before the draft; and some NHL Guardians fun.
And here ... we ... go.
Here's the Fan Fest at the Raleigh Convention Center, which resembles the one in Montreal but definitely feels more like the team-centric fan conventions they've had for teams like the Washington Capitals. Lines for the games were long but moved well; there was also a chance to see all the NHL Awards as well as taking photos with the Stanley Cup. Can you find Sean Leahy in this photo? Don't bother, he was standing next to me.
This guy had a Team Lidstrom sign before there was a Team Lidstrom, so we asked him, "What if Team Lidstrom looks absolutely terrible after the Draft?" That was before Team Lidstrom drafted like Nick had Ken Holland speaking to him in an earpiece and Team Staal put together a roster based solely on bloodlines, friendships and fear of David Backes(notes). Speaking of which ...
The most Inglorious member of the St. Louis Blues spoke to us before the NHL All-Star Game draft. Guess the lobbying paid off.
If you were wondering how the NHL intended to sell merchandise before the teams were drafted, here's how: Generic, gray player T-shirts with a striking logo on the front.
The media "mix zone" that didn't really provide the sort of access many in the media were looking for at this event, in comparison to previous All-Star Games. That improved a bit after the event, but it was past deadline for many scribes by that point.
As you know, the NHL Guardians Project will be revealed in full at Sunday's NHL All-Star Game, but they're all over the place here in Raleigh: Virtual reality games, giant posters, T-shirts, all of it. Here's a shot of the Philadelphia Flyers Guardian from the official graphic novel, as he uses a magic bird to fight Ben Franklins.
Owen Wilson, Monika Lewinsky and Kenny Powers' blonde cousin, a.k.a. The Hanson Brothers.
This is so weird: Seeing a woman with a giant bedazzled Carolina Hurricanes belt buckle was on my bucket list. *Check*