Well I’m back from Ottawa, and the NHL All-Star game and festivities.
There’s a few things to follow up after what was a great celebration of the NHL, it’s fans and of course the city of Ottawa!
I was fortunate enough to be in Raleigh for last years’ event, and it’s interesting to see the difference between a Canadian and a U.S. city hosting this weekend party. In Raleigh I was thoroughly impressed with just about everything the city and Hurricanes had arranged. In Ottawa, I will say that I was beyond impressed with the entire weekend.
Two great cities – two great events with local flavour and fans that are beyond committed – so full props to Ottawa and the Senators organization for keeping up with Raleigh.
The players and their families were excited to be in Canada’s capital city and it showed throughout my time there.
“This has been incredible here this weekend,” Zdeno Chara said, “the way we’ve been treated, and the reception from the fans has really made it special.”
With his 108.8mph clocking in the Hardest Shot contest, big ‘Z’ brought a lot of excitement to everyone on Saturday night. I’m just glad that I never have to stand in front of that shot ever! Others shared that sentiment…
“Pretty scary that he can shoot the puck like that,” Daniel Alfredsson said Saturday, “he keeps beating his own record every year, and it’s scary to think that we have to try and block that shot out there!”
Indeed, you wouldn’t want to be a goalie when he’s loading up. Despite Chara’s record breaking shot, ‘Alfie’ was the most popular player in Ottawa. He received an ovation Sunday for the 59th All-Star Game that you would expect for rock stars and movie legends. It was deafening when he was introduced beforehand, and his name was chanted throughout.
When he scored two goals in the second period the roof nearly came off Scotiabank Place!
“It was incredible to see how much he’s respected here,” Henrik Lundqvist told me Sunday, “he’s a class act, a great player and obviously the fans love him here. Would have been nice if he got the hat-trick tonight.”
Alfredsson had a few chances to get the hattie, and hit the post late in the third period. If he had buried that one, it would have sent the fans into an uncontrollable frenzy!
When the dust settled, ‘Alfie’ came up just short on victory as captain, and the MVP honours personally. Team Chara would go on to beat Team Alfredsson 12-9, with the Rangers’ Marian Gaborik (3 goals, assist) collecting a new car for his effort.
Despite the outcome, the fans and city were world class here. It was great to catch up with old colleagues and be around hockey people and fans. Ottawa is a beautiful city with great NHL supporters, and their pride in the Senators and the league is overwhelming.
Thanks to all who made my assignment there a fantastic NHL experience! Now it’s on to the NHL’s second half, and the chase for the Stanley Cup. Keep it tuned here as I post many more stories down the stretch and into the post-season, as we seperate the pretenders and contenders!
You can follow Murph on Twitter @MurphOnIce