SEE STARS IN DALLAS - PART II
The next day, same place, same time, the big screen TV was still there but the Robert Randolph Family Band transformed the red carpet area into a stage. We fans were asked to come down in front and cheer them on since they were filming the show for later that evening. The band played some great rock songs and the mascots helped get the crowd going. After several songs, it was time to enter the building again. As I was walking away, something touched the back of my head. I turned around to find the Duck’s mascot preparing to cover my head with his bill! He tousled my hair and just then, Iceburgh, the Penguin’s mascot, saw my Pittsburgh jersey and opened his arms for a hug! Much love from the mascots – including Fin, who danced up a storm and had plenty of “smoke” swirling around him.
When I got inside the building, I just walked around taking in all the sights. One of the “sights” was Ken Sawyer, President and CEO of the Penguins, and his wife. I couldn’t pass up this golden opportunity to get my two cents in about keeping the Pens in Pittsburgh. Mr. and Mrs. Sawyer were very nice and he told me he was doing his best – I’ll hold him to that! A little later I saw Bob Errey, former Penguin and present announcer, who was hurrying by. I said, “Hi, Bob Errey!” He waved and said hi before he rushed off.
As the telecast was about to get under way, they played the video of the band from earlier, cutting to the crowd and the big screen, which was showing All Star highlights. Even though I was there, my part (as a fan) was obviously left on the cutting room floor! Once the festivities started, Garth Brooks was introduced. He has established a partnership with the NHL and NHLPA to help children in need and is a huge hockey fan.
After all the players were assembled on the ice, a woman came out to sing “O, Canada”. She had an operatic voice and got a little lost with the melody, I thought. As she turned to walk off, her high heel grazed the ice and boom! Down she went on her butt! How embarrassing! And what was worse, no one on the ice saw it happen so no one helped her up. She just about crawled off.
Governor Rick Perry of Texas joined Stars’ owner Tom Hicks and fan favorite Mike Modano to drop the ceremonial first puck. The game itself was pretty typical of an All Star game and disappointing in that Crosby and Ovechkin were kept very quiet after all the build up preceding the game. Seemed to me they spent a good bit of time trying to set the other one up rather than shooting themselves. Several players did score multiple times and as usual, everyone felt badly for the goalies. Buffalo’s Daniel Briere took the MVP!
The most fun for me was just meeting other fans. It was easy enough – all you had to do was go up to someone in a jersey and say, “Hi, so you’re a fan of the (fill in the team)?” That was a great conversation starter! I would say that Buffalo had to take the prize for having the most fans in attendance. They seemed to be everywhere. One woman I talked to was wearing a Pens’ jersey but her two kids were in Stars’ jerseys. “What gives?” I asked. She said that she had moved to Dallas 20 years ago and was still a Pittsburgh fan, but her kids loved the Stars and that was how it should be.
There were plenty of Canadians on hand too, many of them enjoying Yuppi, the Montreal mascot. Those guys got a real workout! They seemed to be at every event working the crowds.
The East won the Young Stars game and the Skills Competition, while the West won the All Star game. Who can predict who will win the Cup with results like that? The Stanley Cup was on hand and as usual, people’s faces just lit up in its presence!
The Dallas Stars and the NHL did a wonderful job of giving the fans access to the players and put on a great show. I just enjoyed being at the center of the hockey universe!