What a fantastic way to start the afternoon as the game presentation folks paid homage to the pick-up game of shinny with the sticks being piled at center ice and being pulled by a collection of young players.
After the youth players pulled the sticks of a couple of other youth players, Carolina alumni started joining them. With the third stick picked, Rod Brind'Amour came skating to center ice, saying it was his stick. Next, it was Ron Francis joining the group. Then, it was Team Lidstrom captain Nick Lidstrom. Finally, it was Team Staal captain Eric Staal joining the party -- to a huge ovation -- just before the rest of the 2011 All-Stars came streaming onto the ice.
As Versus play-by-play man Mike Emerick said, it was quite the tour through the generations.
The standing ovation for Team Lidstrom coach Peter Laviolette was also very cool. Laviolette, remember, led Carolina to its only Stanley Cup title in 2006.
But, nothing compared to the applause rained down under the Carolina Hurricanes, who were the trhe last three players in the Team Staal lineup to be introduced. Let's just say that the building was rocking like a hurricane when the names of rookie Jeff Skinner, goalie Cam Ward and captain Eric Staal were announced. A truely iconic moment verY early iN the afternoon's proceedings.