It’s official, hockey season is over. If you’re anything like me you were happy to see the Stanley Cup Finals go all the way to a Game 7, simply because it pushed the season into mid-June. Now, everyone in NHL nation patiently or perhaps not so patiently awaits the start of a new season in October. If you’re already in need of a hockey fix, luck is on your side. This week starts a flurry of post season activity with the NHL Awards, NHL Draft and everyone’s favorite nail biting date: July 1st free agency.
The NHL Awards are tonight in Las Vegas and what happens in Vegas is brought to you beginning at 7 pm est. This is my first year covering the awards and although I’m only on day two here in Vegas, I’ve already run into and sat down with a few of the biggest names in hockey.
As a member of the media you glimpse the behind the scenes action leading up to the awards show itself. I always find it interesting to hear what goes on behind the televised two hour version of a ceremony. The uncut, non filtered versions of what everyone is doing to prepare. My assignment for the awards was to have fun and catch the players in a different light than portrayed in the standard media day interviews. Here is a run down of my Vegas trip and awards coverage so far and I’m only on day two.
Well, my trip started off with a bang when Bruins captain Zdeno Chara boarded my flight to Vegas. Chara graciously discussed his Stanley Cup win, signed autographs, posed for photos and shook hands with many eager fans in the terminal at Boston’s Logan Airport. Sadly, the Cup didn’t make the flight with the Bruins captain to Vegas, but it instead arrived with Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas the following morning.
After arriving in Vegas on Monday night, it’s been full steam ahead as the day before the awards is all about the nominee’s availability to the media. Upon entry into the Palms Hotel and Casino, I found myself overwhelmed by the presence of trophies inside the front doors. All the awards trophies are proudly displayed for the public up until a few hours before the awards this evening. Notably absent from the display was the Stanley Cup; which appeared later in the afternoon on my way out of media meetings.
Prior to media availability, I got to sit down at the slot machines with Nashville Predators goaltender and Vezina Trophy nominee Pekka Rinne. While en route to meeting up with Rinne in the hotel lobby; I bumped into Calder Cup nominee and San Jose Shark Logan Couture in the elevator straight from the gifting suite at the awards. With the go go go mentality and fresh off the Rinne interview, it was time for a quick lunch with fellow Inside Hockey correspondent Michelle Kenneth. Sit down lunch turned into take-out when we realized that time had gotten away from us and player interviews were about to start. Nominee’s were rotated in and out of the media room and each discussed topics ranging from personal with summer plans to professional season critiques. The most asked questions stemmed from the playoffs in the case of Bruins and Canucks nominees (Bruins: Chara and Thomas. Canucks players: Kesler, Luongo and Sedin. Coach Vigneault).
As players dispersed, I listened in on a quick interview with host Jay Mohr and found myself uncontrollably laughing at his jokes. I think he’ll yet again prove to be a worthy host and a must watch tonight. Cruising past Jay Mohr, I was introduced to Canadian TV personality, NHL Awards presenter and player favorite George Stroumboulopoulos (thankfully, Strambo for short). It was my first time meeting Strambo and perhaps it was the face I made when he pledged allegiance to Montreal Canadiens nation that he was able to peg me for a Boston girl and Bruins supporter from our first hellos. We parted with the mutual feeling that Original Sixer’s must stick together, so no hard feelings.
Running around the Palms, I next found myself quickly chatting with Mike Bolt and Phil Prichard who are more commonly known as the Cup Keepers. Bolt was fresh off a flight with Lord Stanley himself and still had his NHL duffel bag in tow. I’ll be speaking with them later today and trying to finagle a few unknown Cup stories for Inside Hockey readers.
The trip isn’t all fun and games. After interviews, it was time to do a little work. But not before stopping off to see the lion habitat at the MGM Grand. Feeling jealous of the lions, mainly due to them snoozing away in a sunbeam I travelled back up to the hotel room to start uploading videos and re-cap the day. That brings me to this morning, with an extra large iced coffee and a sinfully good Krispy Kreme in hand; I’m working hard before getting all dolled up and heading back over to the Palms for awards coverage this afternoon. Word in the casino is that Dierks Bentley and Far East Movement are sound checking in preparation for tonight right now.
For everyone who was worried about the lack in hockey during the summer; it’s still going in full force here in Vegas!