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Bear Essentials: Atlanta here we come!

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
John Bishop is the beat writer for He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room. A graduate of Boston U. and Northeastern, 'Bish' grew up in Connecticut and moved to the Hub of Hockey in 1993. Since then he has made all four rinks at the Beanpot schools, as well as both Gardens, his icebound homes away from home. Prior to joining the TD Banknorth Garden staff in 2005, Bishop had written for several publications, with his primary focus being college hockey. He coauthored the book Bygone Boston in 2003 and hopes someday to pen a bio of Hobey Baker.
3:30 p.m.

Hello all!

We've made it to Atlanta and, after running a few errands for the Black & Gold, we are off and blogging. I have to say that I am pretty psyched -- now that I am here -- especially because I timed my first All-Star game experience with that of Milan Lucic, Marc Savard and Tim Thomas.

I saw Big Z and the All-Star new-B's in the airport this morning everyone seemed very relaxed. After all, this is the first time in a very long while for the Bruins where they do not have a "four-point" game to worry about, at least for a couple of days.

I am actually beginning to relax as well...although I haven't had time for any extra coffee.

The rumblings that I am hearing about the new and improved skills competition sound pretty cool. Although I heard some media members grumbling about using NHL vets in the YoungStars Game, I am pretty excited to see that. And, if Tim Thomas gets to play, I think we are in for quite a show from Timmmay and Luuuuuuuuuch.

And  by the way , for those of you who have followed my white-knuckle flying over the last few months, I did just fine this time. Although, I would say that I have a new appreciation for Bear Force One after me and another couple of gentlemen (all well over two bills) were squished into a very, very tiny row.

No matter, everyone got  through in excellent humor and with just a slight set of wrinkles in our suits. And there was no meal to speak of, besides snack crackers and pop, so none of us had a chance to expand any further during the two-plus hour flight.

By the way, it is REALLY cold here! I just brought a suit and dress clothes. I am freezing. I may have to procure an Official All-Star Game fleece...Fluto Shinzawa from The Boston Globe says that it is going to be 20-degrees this evening.

Ok, our first availability of the afternoon is about to begin -- Coaches. And then the YoungStars, so keep your browser here indefinitely. In the meantime, my new intern Angela has been providing a ton of excellent content for our beloved site, so why not check out our new voice!

A belated welcome aboard, Angela. Keep up the good work.

4:19 p.m.
Just got a taste of the All-Star coachs' round table, a made for TV question-and-answer period.

Most of the writers are really anxious to speak to the YoungStars. I'll be interested to see what the non-Boston writers ask Milan...

6:01 p.m.
Mr. Lucic just held court for a mixed group of writers from all over North America.

Obviously, writers from Vancouver and Boston made up a majority of the crew, but as always Milan was very entertaining -- even when he was asked the same question, over and over and over. But, being a true pro, Milan did a great job.

Who was the player you looked up to while you were growing up?
Jarome Iginla...

What was it like to have your nose broken in Philly?
Putting it back together was the most pain I have ever felt...

What's it like to be here at the All-Star Weekend?
It's an honor...

And so on...

Buuuuuuuuuut. Those of us who stuck around, got the best story of the day: The Chicken Race Story.

When we asked about it, thanks to a tip from a Vancouver beat writer, Milan said, "What? The chicken race story? Who told you that?"

And after a little hemming and hawing, Milan relented and seemed to enjoy the being able to tell the story again.

Apparently, Milan had just signed with the Vancouver Giants, but was at one of the games with a friend as a spectator having not yet played with the team.

"It was (at the end of the season) for the Vancouver Giants," said Lucic. "So I decided to go to the game and the game day crew came up to me and my buddy...and asked us if we wanted to be part of the event they do on the ice (between periods)."

"And so it ended up being a chicken race."

So, Milan and his friend put on big chicken feet that made them look as if they were riding a chicken -- not unlike many of the races in stadiums and arenas around the country.

"It was a big chicken, and your legs go in and...they had two jean pant legs coming over so it looks like your legs and then you 'ride the chicken'," explained Milan.

"It looks like you are riding the chicken all the way down (the ice). And you had to stickhandle a beach ball around cones to the far blueline and back.

"And the funny thing is, when the guy announced us...the GM, the owner and my agent were all upstairs looking down," said with a big laugh. "It was a pretty funny."

No doubt there were at least a few shakes of the head from the people who had signed the future Bruin. But what is even funnier is that two weeks later Milan was on the same ice as he made his "debut" in a Vancouver Giants uniform.

"I ended up joining the team for the last game of the regular season and for the first round of their playoffs.

"So that's the story behind the chicken race," he said.

Milan, who won?

"I won."

Was there any doubt?
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