RALEIGH, NC – Brendan Shanahan was named NHL Vice President of Hockey and Business Development in December 2009 and his first major assignment was overhauling the annual All-Star game.
Friday night’s fantasy draft was the biggest change to the weekend and for a first installment it seemed like a success. Shanahan spoke with NHL Network’s Heidi Androl afterward and said the event went well and he was surprised Eric Staal grabbed teammate Cam Ward with the first overall pick.
On how the event turned out…
Shanahan: Well I thought it was really great, but I thought the players embraced it, they had some fun, but it’s just a start. We’ll see how the rest of the weekend goes and it was interesting to see some of the strategies [used by the draft captains]. The people who predicted that old friendships, and teammates, and a little brotherly love in there as well, and sticking it to [Daniel and Henrik] Sedin and making them split up. It was all good entertainment.
Did the strategies surprise him…
It did. Not that he didn’t deserve it, but I was impressed and surprised that Eric [Staal] took Cam Ward with his first pick. I just thought that was great leadership on his part.
Would he do anything differently…
Ask me that question in a few days. I was watching the faces of the players during the draft and they all had big smiles on their faces, so the question really goes to them: did you enjoy it? Would you like to do it again? Would you ever want to be a part of it? And then ask the fans the same question.
It’s tough to say if the fantasy draft will be a success year after year, but the NHL has finally found a way to market the unique, humble, and entertaining personalities of it’s players.
Eric Staal tried to remain serious while his brother Marc poked and prodded him from the draft floor…
Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews ripped on each other, just as they probably do every day in the locker room…
Even assistant captain Martin St. Louis showed some promise a future coach or general manager. Every time his team would select a player, St. Louis would miss the congratulatory handshake because he was too busy scanning the list of players and plotting Team Lidstrom’s next move.
Underneath the helmets and 50 pounds of equipment, the NHL has a group of entertaining players from a variety of countries. Finding ways to reveal these personalities will be the challenge of Shanahan and his newly appointed partner Rob Blake.
Blake will be a Manager in the NHL Hockey Operations Department and will work closely with Shanahan and Senior VP Colin Campbell. He’ll be involved with the Competition Committee as well as the NHL’s summer Research and Development Camp.
“Rob Blake wasn’t just one of the greatest defensemen ever to play in the NHL, he was one of the game’s most thoughtful players,” Campbell said. “We are fortunate to be able to add someone with his long list of on-ice accomplishments and varied talents to the League’s Hockey Operations department. We plan to rely heavily upon his two decades of playing experience – particularly his unique understanding of the game as it is being played today.”
The player’s will arrive via the red carpet tonight before the skills competition gets underway at 7:00pm ET:
NHL All-Stars, rookies, coaches and alumni will walk the red carpet at the RBC Center in Raleigh prior to the Honda NHL SuperSkills® on Saturday, Jan. 29. Fans can join in the pre-event excitement and cheer on their favorite stars in the first of two days of Front Lawn Parties at the RBC Center presented by Custom Home Exteriors and the Carolina Hurricanes organization. Caniacs and fans of all teams are encouraged to be loud and proud as 2011 NHL All-Star festivities come to Carolina for the first time.
The Front Lawn Party on Saturday, Jan. 29 will take place from 3:00-6:45 p.m. at the RBC Center prior to the highly-anticipated Honda SuperSkills® competition and will feature live performances by rock band “Static Line,” made up of members from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. Food and beverage will be available for purchase, TSN will be broadcasting live and the giant LED board outside the RBC Center will be airing the live NHL Network broadcast of the red carpet arrivals, which will begin at 4:00 p.m.