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Sights and Sounds of Raleigh

by Katrina Doell / New York Islanders
January 30, 2011 - 1:00 P.M. Raleigh, NC

I've had some time to come back down to Earth after last night. It was exciting. This is my first experience at an All-Star Game and I suppose, just as Michael Grabner is, I'm soaking it all in trying to not miss a minute of anything.

We arrived at the RBC Center at about 4 p.m. Grabner was supposed to be getting off the first bus of All Stars to arrive at the game at about 4:05 or so. We walked over to the area where the players were getting off the buses and were given magenta colored wrist bands by the NHL PR staff. These enabled us to escort Grabs on the red carpet. I was not expecting that to happen, so I had just a few seconds to grab the trusty Nikon, the iPhone, and FlipCam so that we would have pleanty of material for the website and anything else we may want to do in the future. It was a little tought to walk with Grabner using the FlipCam. So I went with taking pics that I could send straight to Twitter. (There are more pics that we will make a gallery from.)

Michael Grabner getting interviewed by XM Home Ice
Grabner singing for fans on the red carpet at teh 2011 SuperSkills Competition Grabner on the red carpted getting interviewed by Keven Weekes and Jeremy Roenick

You could tell that Grabs really enjoyed being out there with the fans signing autographs and taking pictures. This is a moment you don't forget.

When Grabner stopped to talk to Versus' Kevin Weekes and Jeremy Roenick, I overheard JR tell Grabs that he was the best dressed guy there. (Grabner had really made a statement the night before with a tan suit and pink tie. He looked sharp, and everyone told him so.)

Grabs on the red carpet.

Then the exhilarating ten minute walk was over. We all were inside, excorted Grabs down to the locker room and the rest was just suspense, waiting to see how he would do in the fastest skater competition.

He didn't disappoint Islanders fans (or us!). While beating Taylor Hall was a rush for him, sharing this experience was a rush for me.

And of course, there was no cheering in the press box. Only a big smile to the folks from Edmonton who were sitting next to me.

January 29, 2011 - 10:25 P.M.
RBC Center - Raleigh, NC

An exhilarating night for sure. From the red carpet to the ice, Michael Grabner was taking in every moment, just enjoying the experience.

The Islanders rookie forward started Team Staal off right, by winning the third round of the Fastest Skater Competition. In both heats, Grabner was up against the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, Taylor Hall of the Edmonton Oilers. Grabner out-skated Hall 14.061 to 14.621 and 14.238 to 14.715.

We caught up with Daniel Sedin, former teammate of Grabner in Vancouver and fellow Team Staal member.

Grabner was pretty pumped at the end of the night, and is now looking forward to the rest of the weekend.

January 29, 2011 - 8:21 P.M.
RBC Center - Raleigh, NC

I will definitely post more later when there is more reliable internet to be had, but we wanted to make sure this video got up as soon as possible. This is Grabner, before he blew the competition away in the Fastest Skater competition.

Check out this pick of Grabs on the red carpet. Only one word comes to mind...stylin'.

January 29, 2011 - 7:40 P.M.
RBC Center - Raleigh, NC

Michael Grabner won the Fastest Skater competition for Team Staal. He beat the 2010 first overall draft pick Taylor Hall twice, the second time, in a tie-breaker with a time of 14.2 seconds.

I will most definitely be speaking with Grabs later. No doubt, the rookie forward is excited and proud to have represented the Islanders.

January 29, 2011 - 5:30 P.M.
Raleigh, NC

As promised, I went to USA Hockey's press conference at RecZone in the suburbs of Raleigh.The subject was the American Development Model that USA Hockey has implemented to develop American hockey players. 

It was impressive to hear the passion that Comissioner Gary Bettman, Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke and Hurricane's owner Peter Karmonos spoke with talking about this program. Their collective commitment to developing the game reminds me a lot of what Islanders owner Charles Wang has accomplished with Project Hope and the Lighthouse International Tournament.

With owners like this, imagine how hockey can grow.

Out on the ice was Peter Laviolette who was helping to coach young players who were participating in a clinic at the rink. Hurricane's forward Jeff Skinner even took the ice to help work with the kids. Honestly, it was pretty inspiring.

Afterwards, I headed over to the NHL Fan Fair in downtown Raleigh. It was amazing to see hockey fans wearing their jerseys as far as the eye could see.

Hockey fans everywhere in Raleigh! #nhlallstar

Next up the Red Carpet and Michael Grabners walk.

January 29, 2011 - 10:30 a.m.
Raleigh, NC

Time to get going after a fun night in Raleigh with the draft. I've got some Starbucks and the News & Observer and I'm ready to go.

If you haven't already, catch up on's fantastic coverage of All Star weekend. Great video's and stories up there if you want to check things out from an overall League perspective.

Aside from meeting the very cool guys from the Zambonis, I finally met Joe Yeardon from Pro Hockey Talk and Jon Jordan, who was an original NYI Blog Box member. They are both cool hockey people to follow on Twitter: @JoeYeardonPHT and @JonJordan

As for this morning, getting ready to head downtown to check out the Fan Fair. They have a lot of cool looking stuff over there. I think the Stanley Cup is over there too. I collect pics with the cup so that will be a must.

USA Hockey is also having a press event at 1 p.m. regarding youth hockey. Things like that always interest me. Met Dave Fischer from USA Hockey for the first time last night at the draft and he was pretty excited about it.

Commissioner Bettman will be available to the media at 6 p.m. He's usually pretty interesting so I will probably head to that as well.

For the SuperSkills Competition, there will be a Player Red Carpet Arrival at the RBC Center at 6 p.m. Follow us on Twitter to see pics of the event as it happens.

January 28, 2011 - 11:00 P.M.
Raleigh Convention Center Raleigh, NC

What a great night it was at the Raleigh Convention Center.

The players really seemed to like the draft concept that the NHL chose to go with this season. (Although, they thought it went a bit long.)

Michael Grabner was no exception. He had a great time out there and is really soaking up every minute of this weekend. As he told Stan Fischler of MSG on Thursday night, "You never know when you will get back there."

Before the event started, the other team's PR staffs were waiting for their players to arrive. There was a ton of media waiting along the walkway where the players did interviews with the media.

Players entering now. #nhlallstar

Here is the interview we were able to grab as Grabner took his turn on the walk.

So, this all went down for the rookies participating in the skills competition like this: prior to the draft, the 12 rookies were seperated into two teams. When there were three spots left to be picked for Teams Lidstrom and Staal, a puck was flipped and the rookies chose their side. Grabner was teamed with Logan Couture (San Jose), Tyler Ennis (Buffalo), Jamie McBain (Carolina), P.K. Subban (Montreal) and will compete for Team Staal. During the draft, the PR teams and special guests of the players hung out backstage waiting and watching to see how the teams would pan out. Here's a shot from behind the scenes.
Backstage at the draft. #nhlallstar

After the Versus broadcast of the Draft was over, the players filtered back in to the area where all the rest of us were waiting and went off to their own events from there. Before he left, this was our interview with Grabs.

Tomorrow night of course is the skills competition. The rookies have not yet been told what events they will be participating in, but Grabs said that he will head over to the RBC Center to do a few warm up laps just in case he is competing in the fastest skater event.

Before he left, Grabs was able to spend a few minutes with Deb Placey of MSG, who is there covering the event as a reporter for the NHL network .
#isles @grabs40 talks with @Debmsg about the #nhlallstar Skills Competition tomorrow

That's all for now, see you tomorrow. I think I will try to get over to few of the events to check them out, and the Commissioner will have some media availability at 6 p.m. I may head over to see that.

January 28, 2011 - 3:00 p.m.
Raleigh, NC
All checked in.
You may have heard Grabner on NHL Live earlier today talking abouth how excited he is to be here. It was quite a scene as we were decending the elevator at the airport. Fans and autograph seekers were everywhere as many of the players were arriving.

Media an autograph seekers waiting for players to arrive in Raleigh. #isles #nhlallstar

After grabbing some lunch at the hotel, it was time to pick up the credentials at the Sheraton in Downtown Raleigh. The city is decked-out for the ASG with banners everywhere. It looks great and brings a lot of excitement to the event.

We ran into Steve Webb at the Raleigh Convention Center, where tonight's draft will be. Always nice to see Steve.

We also ran into the lead singer of the Zamboni's Dave Schneider. Nice guy. The band is playing two shows down here. Check out their website for more info.

That's all for now. Heading back to the Raleigh Convention Center for media availability before the draft. Check back later for some pics or follow the Islanders on Twitter (@NYIslanders) to see it as it happens.

January 28, 2011 - 10:50 A.M.
NYC, LaGuardia Airport

Here we go! I've checked in on Foursquare and Tweeted my little heart out.

We're headed to the All Star Game in Raleigh,NC.

It's my first time at an ASG (that's the lingo around here), and I am really looking forward to being behind the scenes to bring the fans some great coverage.

Wejust boarded the plane. We're all on. Most importantly, Michael Grabner is on.

See you once we land.

Check out this video of Grabner, right before he got on the plane.

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