LOS ANGELES -- As an entertainer, former World Wrestling Entertainment star and current Ultimate Fighting Championship competitor Phillip Brooks -- better known as CM Punk -- understands the power of mascots.
"When it comes to mascots, there is just something about them," Brooks said. "I'm 38 years old and every time I see one of them, I still get a big smile on my face. It's infectious. I spent all day Friday and Saturday with the mascots and then [Saturday] night for Skills Competition, I took my wife and we were walking the concourse and seeing all the mascots and giving them high-fives and introducing them to my wife like they are real human beings; it's just fun. I can't say it enough … F-U-N, fun."
The whole 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend was massively fun for Brooks, a huge hockey fan who has supported the Chicago Blackhawks for the better part of three decades.
He spent the weekend working with the League's mascots at various events at Staples Center and the nearby Fan Fair at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Sunday, he co-hosted the third annual Mascot Showdown at Staples Center, an All-Star type game featuring the League's mascots which was played right before the 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game.
After it was over, he interpreted for Bailey, the Los Angeles Kings mascot, who, not surprisingly, scored the winning goal - on a last-second penalty shot, no less - to give the Western Conference the victory.
"I understand mascot," Brooks told the film crew at the mock press conference before translating the effusive gestures of Bailey into sound bytes.
Video: CM Punk recaps the second day of the Mascot Showdown
Brooks got almost everything he wanted this weekend when it came to hockey, except for a win by the Central Division, home of his beloved Blackhawks. The Central Division lost in the semifinal, dropping a 10-3 decision to the Pacific Division. Jonathan Toews was the only Chicago player to score.
Yet, Brooks knows he has much to be grateful for as a fan of the Blackhawks, who have won the Stanley Cup three times since 2010. This season, the Hawks are again a threat for the Stanley Cup; second in the Central Division and second in the Western Conference, trailing the Minnesota Wild by four points. The second half of the season starts Tuesday, when the Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center (10:30 p.m. ET; CSN-CA, CSN-CH, NHL.TV).
On Friday, Toews, right wing Patrick Kane and defenseman Duncan Keith were among a select group of active players to be among the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian.
He knows he is living in gilded age when it comes to his hockey fandom.
"It's amazing what a turn around the entire organization has done and I know now they are kind of the blueprint for other organizations on how to do it, so, yeah, I get it. There are a lot of people [who] talk about how a lot of Blackhawks fans are bandwagon fans, and so on and so forth. You are going to get those fans, but you are going to get the fans that have been there the whole time and now they can rejoice in having a team that gives back to them, that is committed to winning."
Video: CM Punk recaps the third day of the Mascot Showdown
Brooks remains confident that another long run for the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs could be in the offing, but he knows there is a tough row to hoe before that becomes a reality.
"I would like to see a couple of the younger players get a little bit more ice time," he said. "I think [Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville] sees that as a gamble and he likes to play his guys that are his guys and have won Cups and all that. I still see a team that is very good. I'm interested to see what kind of moves are made before the (NHL) Trade Deadline (on March 1)."