TAMPA - All-Star Weekend festivities shifted outside of downtown Tampa on Saturday morning for media day, where Noah Hanifin ran through a gauntlet of various shoots and interviews.
The morning began with a photoshoot in which Hanifin modeled a number of Hurricanes t-shirts and hats.
It was then time to hit the podium and field questions from reporters from around the world. Hanifin was seated next to his friend, fellow 2015 draftee and Team USA teammate, Jack Eichel, and the Canes' defenseman touched on a number of subjects in his 15 or so minutes behind the microphone. Here are some highlights.
On the All-Star experience thus far: "It's been relaxing. I saw my family and caught up with them a bit. I saw a few my buddies - Jack (Eichel), Auston Matthews, (Zach) Werenski - and got to hang out for a little bit and had a good time."
On being named an All-Star: "I was pretty excited. I was a surprised a little bit. I'm excited. It's going to be a great experience. I talked to Justin Faulk who has been a few times and he had nothing but great things to say about the weekend. I'm looking forward to it, and I'm excited to be here."
On his development as a young defenseman: "It's been more of a slow and steady progress in my development. Each year I've gotten better and better in certain areas of my game. Coming into my third year, I think my confidence with the puck has grown a lot. I'm trying to make more plays than I have in the first two years. My game is definitely headed in the right direction, but of course there are a lot of things I can work on to get better at."
On the adjustment to playing in the NHL: "It's just gaining confidence. I think when you come into this league as a young defenseman you can keep it simple. For me specifically I just wanted to go out and ease my way into it. I'm an offensive guy. I want the puck and I want to make plays. Sometimes at first you're a little hesitant to do that stuff like old onto the puck, jump into plays and take some risks. That was probably the most difficult part: gaining that confidence and that comfortability in doing that. … I've learned so much in my first few years, and I still have a ways to go to be where I want to be."
On his skating abilities: "Ever since I've been a little kid I was always told you're not going to make it in this game if you can't skate, so that's always been my biggest focus. Even when I go back in the summertime, I like to work on my skating."
On his friendship with Eichel: "It's been awesome. We still keep in touch quite a bit through the season. He's an unbelievable player. Last time we played him he had a hat trick. He's always a blast to play against and talk to during the year. Last year at World Championships we were roommates, so we were together for about a month last summer. He's a great guy, and it's awesome to see the relationship continue as we play our NHL careers."
On the future of the Hurricanes: "We have a pretty young team, but I think that makes it special. We're all growing together and going through the same experiences. It's been great, and we're excited for what's ahead. … There are guys in our room who have won. It's just about collectively coming together and figuring it out. I think when we do that we'll be a dangerous team."
Video: All-Star: Noah Hanifin Media Day Availability
We've got much more to come from media day, including a pair of interviews with Hanifin - one conducted by his siblings and a more traditional one-on-one with myself. Stay tuned!
Video: All-Star: Hanifin One-on-One
Also be sure to check out our Instagram story from today, which features a behind-the-scenes look at Hanifin's morning.
Video: All-Star: Media Day Sights & Sounds
Up next: the 2018 NHL All-Star Skills Competition, which begins at 7 p.m. on NBCSN. We set the table with our preview here.