GATINEAU, Que. -- It might be a bit cliché to say it but I can't help myself, being in Ottawa this weekend side by side with the biggest stars in the NHL is really impressive.
It was only a year ago that I was playing on the Quebec junior league All-Star team, and just a few months ago I was playing the Gatineau Olympiques in the playoffs. Now here I am, back in Gatineau again -- except I'm here with the best players in the world.
When you go straight from junior to the NHL, it really hits you how different life is here. The hotels, the travel, the food, how well everything is organized; it's like another planet.
I'm just trying to savor every moment, because I often get the impression that it's all going by so fast I don't have the time to sit back and realize what's happened in the past year. It's like I don't even realize I'm here, but I'm going to do my best to take full advantage of the weekend.
I got to Ottawa on Thursday afternoon from Montreal, and as soon as I got here I couldn't believe how well-organized everything was. It's really impressive.
The first event was the player draft, but the rookies weren't waiting in the same room with the other All-Stars. We were in another room on our own and went to join them when it was our turn to go on stage.
It can be a little intimidating being at a big event like this for the first time with all these superstars, so it's really nice to have my teammate Matt Read with me on the rookie team. It's almost like having each other has calmed both of us down a little.
Watching the draft, it was pretty obvious that Zdeno Chara's team was getting booed a lot, so as a team we decided that we would pick Daniel Alfredsson's team so at least the crowd would be behind us.
I had a lot of players I looked up to when I was younger, guys like Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, but really all the best players because I tried to study them and steal the best parts of their games so I can add them to mine. So walking into an environment like this where I'm surrounded by the best players in the NHL was really special, because they were players I admired and still admire today.
My schedule is pretty light on Friday, so I'm hoping to get to know some of the guys a little better. The one event that is on my schedule for Friday is that Matt and I are going to visit a children's hospital here; I'm really looking forward to it.
I'll be writing this blog on NHL.com all weekend to tell you all how my first All-Star Weekend is going, so check back every day to read my thoughts. Thanks for reading!
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You could feel it. You could feel that they were going after each other and trying to win the game for their team.