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'Big Six' see how other half lives

by Adam Kimelman

After an exciting couple of days in Detroit at the Stanley Cup Final, its back to work for Steven Stamkos and the other five of the 'Big Six' top prospects who are now find themselves back to work at the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto.
TORONTO – It’s been a whirlwind few days for the top prospects for the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. They spent Sunday and Monday in Detroit at the Stanley Cup Final, and then flew into Toronto for their turn at the NHL Scouting Combine.
For Steven Stamkos, Zach Bogosian, Drew Doughty, Tyler Myers, Luke Schenn and Alex Pietrangelo, it’s been an exhausting, but fun, last few days. And they know there’s more to come, so they spent their first day of Combine activities laying low, relaxing and going through an interview or two.
“It was a lot of fun doing that in Detroit, that was kind of our fun time,” said Doughty, the star defenseman for the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm.
The Scouting Combine, being held this week at the Westin Bristol Place Toronto Airport Hotel has drawn 107 of the best prospects for the 2008 Draft. Only a selected few, though, got to experience what the “Big Six” did.
First, it was dinner Sunday night at a special event honoring legendary Detroit Red Wings like Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay. Then they attended the morning skate prior to Game 2 of the Cup Final on Monday, and visited with the players in the dressing rooms. Then they were paraded in front of the hockey media for a question-and-answer session, and finished the night with prime seats for the Red Wings’ 3-0 victory.

What stands out, though, was the opportunity to meet some of today’s brightest stars, like Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom.
“Meeting guys like Sidney Crosby is pretty exciting for me,” said Myers, the 6-foot-7 giant defenseman from the Western Hockey League’s Kelowna Rockets. “Getting to meet Nicklas Lidstrom, a guy I really look up to as a defenseman in the NHL, it was great meeting him. It’s fun to see the routine they go through on game day, what they’re like in the dressing room. It was a great experience.”
“We got to meet a lot of players, like Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal, Nicklas Lidstrom,” Doughty said. “That was my most favorite part of the whole entire time. Especially realizing Crosby is only two years older than me and Staal’s only a year older. It really gives us the confidence boost that we can make the jump to the NHL sooner rather than later just because of how young they are and how well they’ve done already in the NHL.”
They also got to experience each other in a more up-close-and-personal way. As elite players, most have skated together in some form or fashion, whether it was at the Top Prospects camp or international competitions. Still, though, there was an opportunity for some additional bonding time.
“I know ‘Stammer’ really well now, we’re good buddies,” Doughty said of Stamkos, the top-rated forward from the Ontario Hockey League’s Sarnia Sting. “We get along really well. We talk a lot. We’re pretty good buddies and I’m sure we’ll continue to be.
“I think when you have that kind of (top-ranked) status, you think he’s going to be the cocky, arrogant type, but he’s nothing like that. He’s very humble, very fun and he’s just like one of the guys. Likes to have a lot of fun and enjoys playing the game of hockey.”
“I already knew Bogosian, Stamkos and Doughty,” said Schenn, who also was traveling with his Kelowna teammate, Myers. “For me, it was getting back together with them. But I got to know Pietrangelo and he’s a really good guy. Same with the rest. We all got along real well and had a lot of fun down there.”
The fun, though, is mostly over, as the Combine thoughts have taken over.
“Now it’s back to business,” Doughty said. “I’m sure the guys are pretty nervous about their interviews and fitness testing. It’s all very important for everyone. I’m sure the nerves are coming out right now and I’m sure everyone can’t wait to get it over with.”
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