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Posted On Friday, 03.14.2014 / 9:50 AM

By EJ Hradek -  NHL.com Analyst /NHL.com - NHL.com's 2014 Wayne Gretzky Fantasy Camp blog

Hradek: Bronze in the bag, and a host of thanks

With another Wayne Gretzky Fantasy Camp in the books -- my team skated away with the bronze medal, but more on that in a bit -- I have to offer a huge thanks to Wayne and his entire staff, led by Darren Blake, Jeff Holbrook and Jenny Granich.

Aside from working tirelessly to give the campers a once-in-a-lifetime experience, they're always available to help our group at the NHL Network and NHL.com with access to the legends and the logistics of our coverage.

In particular, Jenny managed to find time for some of our silly requests while juggling an impossibly busy schedule. Thanks!

Again this year, it was terrific to catch up with Wayne and the impressive cast of former players as well as the campers, some of whom I've gotten to know over the past few years.

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.12.2014 / 10:25 AM

By EJ Hradek -  NHL.com Analyst /NHL.com - NHL.com's 2014 Wayne Gretzky Fantasy Camp blog

Hradek: Road to Gretzky Cup has its bumps

In previous years, four teams competed for the prestigious Gretzky Cup. I was part of a Gretzky Cup champion in 2011 (although not a very big part). In fact, I brought the Cup back to our NHL Live studio in New York. Despite my efforts, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg refused my repeated requests for a one-car ticker-tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes. Why not, Michael, why not?!

But I digress.

This year, my team -- coached by Glen Gretzky and Joe Lama and led by former pros Rick Tocchet and Matthew Barnaby as well as four-time Olympic gold medal-winning women's legend Hayley Wickenheiser -- will have to fend off five other teams. That's right, the "Original Four" era is over. The camp has expanded to six teams, making the road to the Cup that much tougher.

On the first day of games, we got off to a good start, beating Team Denis Savard/Marty McSorley, 8-5. Camper Shane Britt, from Fort McMurray, Alberta, led the way, scoring four goals. Heck, I didn't get four shots!

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.11.2014 / 8:54 AM

By EJ Hradek -  NHL.com Analyst /NHL.com - NHL.com's 2014 Wayne Gretzky Fantasy Camp blog

Hradek: Ready to start playing some hockey

Greetings from sunny and warm Las Vegas, Nevada. Of course, after a winter spent (for the most part) in the Northeast, almost anywhere might be considered sunny and warm.

I arrived on Monday afternoon for practice day. I did not make it in time for either of the two workout sessions run by former Los Angeles Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coach Cap Raeder and New York Rangers' skating and skill development coach Mark Ciaccio. Long ago realizing that my game was beyond repair, the coaches decided against fining me.

This year, the coaches have more players to worry about as the camp tournament has expanded from four to six teams. While Raeder and Ciaccio put the campers through their paces on the ice, Walter Gretzky and the other coaches rate the players in preparation for the draft.


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Quote of the Day

Great players need great players to play with. That's why we'll have a training camp and we'll find who the best two guys are suited to play with Stamkos.

— Tampa Bay Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness on Steven Stamkos' potential linemates for the 2014-15 season