SEEING STARS IN DALLAS : Part One
By Jan Snyder
There is one thing about Texans – they sure know how to throw a party! The one that Dallas and the NHL put on recently during the All Star game was a classic example.
I went merely as a hockey fan, with no special access to anything, but armed with tickets to both night’s events and a camera. There was an excited buzz around the whole area of the American Airlines Center, which is a beautiful building.
On Tuesday, I made sure I was in place along the “red carpet” to see all the players make their entrance. In case someone couldn’t see them, there were four big screens that combined into one giant TV that was four stories high! Everything’s bigger in Texas, after all! As the players came off the bus, usually two at a time, their pictures came up on the screen as they walked up to a stage to be briefly interviewed. Then they made their way along the red carpet, obliging many with autographs or photos.
Colorado Avalanche Captain, Joe Sakic on the red carpet. Photo by Jan
The boys clean up very well and looked great in their finely-tailored suits! Many of the team mascots were on hand and led the way for their team’s players. Some of the guys, especially the Young Stars, looked a little ill at ease, but they all smiled and enjoyed the moment. Both Staal brothers were there, Eric from Carolina and Jordan from Pittsburgh. Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom could have passed for a model and he has striking blue eyes! Devil Martin Brodeur was very much at home, with his kids trailing along behind him. With his long black hair, Roberto Luongo looked downright continental! Boston’s Zdeno Chara seemed larger than life even in a business suit, while Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller appeared much slighter in person without all the equipment. Vincent Lecavalier from Tampa Bay was a big hit with the young girls while the Avs’ Joe Sakic and Ducks’ Teemu Selanne had the young boys vying for autographs.
As the players got near to the door, it seemed that every city with a team representative had a camera crew there to catch their every move. That was in addition to the national crews. When Sidney Crosby got to the door, he was immediately besieged by the media throng, as was Alexander Ovechkin. Someone from the league finally pulled them inside the doors after several interviews. Of course Philippe Boucher and Marty Turco of the Stars got the most attention from the partisan fans.
When the walk was over, the doors opened so fans with tickets could enter. Before I went in, I checked out the display of the new uniforms. They are very soft to the touch and much lighter than the jerseys the teams wear now. I’m anxious to see each team’s personalization of them.
As I walked around the building, Brian Engblom from Versus passed by, as did Scott Oake from Hockey Night in Canada.
The Young Stars game wasn’t all that exciting. The Skills Competition was more interesting. There was a nice mixture of older players and young ones and it was clear they were all enjoying it. I was sitting over the goal where Crosby scored on several shoot out goals. Fun to watch!
Another nice touch was that kids from a youth hockey school came on to the ice before the Skills Competition and “acted out” how the events would work. What nice memories those kids will have for a lifetime! A huge platform holding all the NHL trophies except the Stanley Cup was lowered from the roof and the kids skated around it taking a good look at the hardware.
We left the arena after that appetizer, ready for the main course the following evening!