NEW YORK –
Some of them sat in the stands at the U.S. Open in Flushing, Queens, watching Roger Federer sweat through a five-set victory Tuesday night. A few others went to the premier of HBO's hit show Entourage in midtown Wednesday.
"It's one of my favorite shows," New York Rangers
goalie Henrik Lundqvist
told NHL.com hours before he was to attend the premier with a host of celebrities, as well as Martin Brodeur
and Vincent Lecavalier
While those are some of the perks to attending the NHL's Player Media Tour in Manhattan this week, the three-day event hosted by the NHL was very much a business trip for the 14 superstars.
They were here to help promote the League and sell the game they still love to play.
"It's a fun thing for the parties involved to get in touch with the players before the season starts, but there's a lot of stuff to be done," Brodeur told NHL.com. "Promotion of the game is a big thing right now, especially in the day of the Internet and TV and how big of an impact each has on the business part of the game. For the young guys and the old guys like myself to commit to come is a great thing."
Brodeur and fellow New York tri-state area goalies Lundqvist and Rick DiPietro
didn't have to travel far to get to the Empire Hotel near Central Park, the main headquarters for the Player Tour, but others came from long distances
flew in from Pittsburgh. Rick Nash
came from Toronto. The Staal brothers – Eric, Jordan and Marc – from Thunder Bay, Ont. Jonathan Toews
came from Winnipeg. Dion Phaneuf
came in from Prince Edward Island.
and Ryan Miller
each flew in from Buffalo. Anze Kopitar
took a cross-country flight from Los Angeles. Lecavalier came in from Tampa Bay.
"I think it should be on the players and the League to promote our game, especially in the U.S.," Toews told NHL.com. "All these features and stuff that is going to go on TV is all good stuff. As a young guy I'm a little surprised to be here, but you can't turn down the opportunity. You want to be part of things like this."
Wednesday was the busiest day for the players. They were shuttled from station to station inside the Empire Hotel to meet with various NHL departments.
They did on-camera interviews with the NHL Network as well as various video spots for the national rights holders such as NBC. They did sit-down interviews with NHL.com and NHL Radio.
One of the more interesting (and hilarious) sites was seeing each player having makeup applied and choosing through various wardrobes for photo shoots with NHL Images.
NHL Marketing spent some time with four of them for a season-launch commercial shoot, and NHLPA.com, TSN and VERSUS all did spots with them, as well. They also got their hands dirty as they made All-Star Fantasy molds for the League's Special Events staff.
DiPietro and Miller spent an hour at the NHL Store on Wednesday evening conducting a question-and-answer session with fans.
"When you do this you start knowing people around the game and you stay around all the events, you could know people," Brodeur said. "You have to get your feet wet in these kinds of environments if you're going to be one of the top players, or even just an NHL player. I think they should do more of it. We're a big family and we're all playing the game we love and trying to grow it for the next kid that comes in. Who knows? That could be my kid."
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org