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.
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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There was a lot of talk off the ice. From a player's standpoint, that's not the talk in the room. GMs make decisions, coaches make decisions, but as a team you have to come together and be ready to go, and we are.