Derek Mori has been attending Wayne Gretzky's Fantasy Camp since 2006, when his wife sprung the trip on him as a 40th birthday gift. He is here for a seventh straight year and has agreed to blog his experiences for NHL.com.
Derek, who lives in Oakville, Ont., with his wife, Anita, and twin boys, says he's certainly not an ex-pro, but he's not a beginner either. He's been on the team that has won the Gretzky Fantasy Camp Cup four out of the six years he's been here, and he intends to do it again.
Read on to learn more about Derek's experience and what No. 99's camp is all about:
LAS VEGAS -- Two games down, two wins in the book, and a clear path to the Gretzky Cup Final. I've won the title here at this camp four out of the six years I've been here, and it's nice to know I'm going to have a shot for a fifth title this year.
Eddie Mio, the goalie on my team and one of our two ex-pros, absolutely stood on his head today. He was the first star in both games.
Marty McSorley, the other ex-pro on my team, is great to play with because he knows a lot of the technical stuff dealing with systems, where you're supposed to be, what responsibilities each player has. Although he's a fighter, he's got some great hockey awareness.
While on the bench Marty is a serious guy, but very much a team guy. He is telling guys all the time what to do and reminding them of their assignments. Even though you know, he'll remind you that, 'Hey, that guy there, that's your guy.' Marty is playing 'D' and after he comes off he'll tell people things that they could be doing or should be doing.
That's great because when you're playing men's pickup hockey, people don't say that stuff. Guys don't want to do that because it gets other guys angry. But, this is coming from a pro. These guys are trained elite athletes and it's engrained in them that when the puck goes here, they have to stand there and do this. They're trained like that and it's good to hear about it from them.
As for me, I did pretty well. Not only did we win both games, I got a goal in the first game. Wayne actually set me up on a 2-on-1 and then he rode his stick like Tiger Williams after I scored. The guys all got a good laugh out of that.
Wayne is just as excited as everyone else. He doesn't want to score, but he has fun setting guys up. He still has the hands and the vision.
The pace overall was a lot faster. In fact, every year it's getting faster. Maybe it's because I'm getting older and slower and the other guys coming here are younger and faster, but the pace was quick today and I was sucking some wind.
Twenty years ago it would be no problem, but now I'm just exhausted.
Our first game was against a team that included Jeremy Roenick, Brian Leetch and Grant Fuhr. We beat them 8-4, but I was talking to Fuhr and he told me that he had some work done on his knees recently. He said, 'I'm not going down, I don't care.'
I hadn't met Carbonneau until breakfast this morning. He was sitting by himself and I was like, "Hey, come on over here and sit with us." Hey, he's a rookie here, gotta help him out. We were chit-chatting about hockey, and that's really what this is all about.
It's all hockey all the time here, and there is more to be played Friday.
It's a little different but it feels amazing. A new chapter in my life and I'm excited. It's been amazing. Better than I expected. The weather is great, the place is just amazing. I can't say enough good things about it. I'm glad to get the season going.
— Ryan Kesler on his transition to the Anaheim Ducks