Puck Daddy - NHL

In Vol. 1 of our hockey tour of Raleigh, we brought you some sights and sounds from the NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft. But the rest of the weekend focused on RBC Center, which is located roughly three states away from the downtown area. Which is fine, of course, when your entire fan base tailgates like a Buffett concert before every game.

This classic tailgating vehicle was spotted before Sunday's All-Star Game, and one gets the sense it's not the first time it's been seen in this parking lot. In fact, we'd wager it's attended more Canes games than John Forslund.

Coming up, more tailgating, more fan festing and a few of those wonderful glamour shots from the NHL, like this one of Alex Ovechkin(notes) and Mike Green(notes) of the Washington Capitals:

Dude, senior prom was weird this year.

And here ... we ... go.

From the Fan Fest, the would be the innards of an actual FoxTrax glow puck, which debuted in the 1995-96 NHL All-Star Game. They keep it under glass in order to contain its scorching comet tail should it suddenly move. Not pictured: The lifeless body of a FOX hockey robot, resting quietly nearby.

Patrick Sharp's(notes) new paperweight.

Speaking of Sharp, here's another NHL glamour shot. The whole "light inside the jersey" thing was an interesting idea, but for only for certain sweaters. Here, it looks like Patrick Sharp is being stalked by E.T., who can be excused for his stalking because after all it is Patrick Sharp (*swoon*).

Not sure if we've mentioned this yet, but some of the glamour shots worked better than others.

Much more glamorous, Jonas Hiller(notes).

As I was waiting to talk with Jonathan Toews(notes) after the skills competition, I noticed two large bins of broken shot accuracy targets. I asked the arena worker where they were headed; "the trash" was the answer. Like so much other trash, I immediately saw this as a rec room treasure and snagged this one, fighting the urge to break journalistic protocol and have Daniel Sedin(notes) sign it. It's now safely back at home since the TSA wasn't smart enough to break it open and find my stash of heroin.

This is a BBQ smoker located near the front gate RBC Center, feeding a few hundred people in a large tent before the game and completely blocking our view of that awesome Andy Moog jersey.

This dude sells anti-Boston shirts on the Internet. We were puzzled about this animosity towards the Boston Bruins given that they appeared to be Buffalo Sabres fans. Sure, Adams Division rivalries run deep, but still.

These Carolina Hurricanes fans were situated near one of the entrances to the parking lot. We're not sure if you were supposed to honk three times, or if one honk covered all three requests, or if you disagreed with the second request whether you honked, waited a beat and then honked again. Maybe we're over-thinking this.

We were as surprised as you are to see Marty Turco(notes) at the All-Star Game.

Cole's Grassy Knoll is good people. Leahy and I were invited over there via some readers on Twitter and it's really one of the better tailgates I've seen at a hockey game that didn't involve, say, a giant camper painted in team colors.

The food at Cole's Knoll. We've isolated the meat crack that was filet mignon chunks wrapped in bacon.

And what better way to wash down a nice picnic lunch than with what they found in Charlie Sheen's hotel bathtub? Well, underneath the hooker.

In the end, this is what it all about.

There have been lots of stories written about Raleigh's hockey renaissance and how the fans supported the event last weekend. But that's playing catch-up: The Carolina Hurricanes have had rabid support for years, although it doesn't always show up in the attendance figures or the national TV ratings.

The Cole's Knoll crew has been at it for years. The fans rocking Brind'Amour and Francis jerseys have been at it for years. It's almost a shame that it takes an All-Star Game for that dedicated to get recognized.

But the fans in Raleigh didn't mind. They welcomed out of-towners with open arms. They welcomed local media that only shows up on the playoffs with wide smiles. They were generally happy to have been chosen for this event, and made sure that honor wasn't wasted in apathy. From Skinnermania to Team Staal, they made this work.

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