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Sounds of Sacco

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
10:11 pm

After nearly two full days in Dallas I've come to one simple conclusion. Everything you eat in this city is spicy. The huevos ranchero for breakfast – flaming. Tortilla soup for lunch – set off smoke alarms. Steak sandwich, chips and salsa, botanas platter – call the fire department.

I find that interesting only because I just watched the New Jersey Devils Zach Parise drop a spicy meatball on Colorado goalie Peter Budaj (pronounced Boo-die) during the NHL Young Stars game.

Parise – who took home MVP honors in the game – scored a jaw-dropping 360-degree spin-o-rama goal in the third period of the East's 9-8 win over the West. Other highlights of the game included Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin spending an entire shift waiting for a breakaway pass at the red line and Kari Lehtonen stoning the West on three consecutive breakaways.

Following the Young Stars game was the NHL Super Skills Competition.

Cats defenseman Jay Bouwmeester went up against Columbus' Rick Nash in the puck control race. Unfortunately, Nash took the race – winning for the second year in a row – but I'm willing to bet Bouw felt bad for Nash after making him look like a slug in last year's Cats win over the Blue Jackets. No hard feelings right?

Anyway, Bouw's participation in the Puck Control event meant he was scratched for the Fastest Skater Competition, which like I mentioned before, makes about as much sense as a Terrell Owens Sportsmanship Award.

Regardless, Anaheim's Andy MacDonald ended up winning the Fastest Skater Competition, but if I were the NHL I'd put a Barry Bonds sized asterisk on that one.

One of my personal favorites – the Hardest Shot Competition – came a bit later. Apparently Al Iafrate still holds the record in this thing with a 105 mph shot. I remember playing NHL 95 for Sega when I was a kid and always trading for Al Iafrate because his one-timer from the point was almost as unstoppable as Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl.

Speaking of video games, before every event the video screens feature a video game tutorial of the next event. I always found it fascinating that for all the technological advances in video games, hockey players inevitably look like they're skating with eggs in their hockey pants.

Regardless, this time around My Giant Zdeno Chara won the Hardest Shot with a 100 mph shot. From my seat in the press box Chara makes the rest of the players look like Hobbits.

On another tangent, every time one of these guys gets interviewed by Pierre McGuire on the centerhung scoreboard it makes me think of the movie Bull Durham.

You have to learn your clichés. I'm just happy to be here. I'm just going to work hard and god-willing I'll help the ball club.

Does anybody else miss Jeremy Roenick and Brett Hull?

The accuracy shooting competition, which really should be named the Ray Bourque invitational since he won it so many times, was up next. Carolina Hurricanes forward Eric Staal took this one hitting all four targets on just five shots.

Watching this competition will really make you appreciate the talent these guys have. Imagine hitting a 6-square inch corner of the net. Then imagine doing it in full motion with five other guys on the ice trying to end your existence.

Sound fun?

More blogs tomorrow...

1:38 pm

If you've ever played the video game NHL 95 for Sega Genesis, you probably would have enjoyed walking the event level of the American Airlines Center in Dallas last night.

With just one lap you could have put together one of the most dominant five man units in video game history – sans Jeremy "It's not so much me as it is" Roenick..."he's good."

I'll take you through it.

First, you've got Mario Lemieux (100 rating) shaking hands with Gary Bettman. Then you've got Adam Oates (100 rating) talking on his cell phone in some ante-room. Brett Hull (100 rating) is doing an interview for a throng of television reporters. Meanwhile, Paul Coffey (100
rating) is reminiscing with Mark Messier (97 rating). And finally Ray Bourque (100 rating) is wandering the halls looking for a coffee.

Looking for some good reserves? How about nearly all of the Dallas Stars 1999 Cup team, including Hull, Eddie Belfour, Joe Nieuwendyk, Pat Verbeek, Craig Ludwig, Mike Modano, et al.

The old Stars were in town for a special reunion, that was covered impeccably well by FSN Southwest, and featured hockey fan and Academy Award winning actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. as a special on ice reporter.

Show me the money.

As for tonight's skills competition, the word is still out on Bouwmeester's list of events. As of last night, he wasn't even penciled in for the fastest skater competition, which to me is kind of like telling Superman to quit saving the world and work the check out line at Wal-Mart instead.

It's going to be fun for Panthers fans to see how Bouwmeester's skill set ranks with the best in the world. Just this afternoon Palm Beach Post reporter Brian Biggane was waxing poetic on Bouw's incredible skating ability.

Biggane said that Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice tells his players that if they're right next to Bouwmeester and they're heading in the same direction they've already lost the race.

That's pretty nice praise from a coach who doesn't hand it out on a whim.

Anyway, we've got an update on the Unofficial Online Dallas Food Critic Competition. The reader who kindly suggested Primo's Bar and Grill on McKinney in Dallas, can thank the mouth watering Botanas Platter for his current lead in the contest. Literally, I was barely done taking my coat off and our waitress had a bowl of complimentary tortilla chips and salsa in front of us. If only the Department of Motor Vehicles could offer that type of service.

The Competition closes at face-off time tomorrow, at which point the winner will receive his or her personal blog shout out.

Pretty lofty status I'd say.

Also, just to update our loyal readers, votes are still being tabulated in the George Richards Blog vs. Sacco Blog poll. We are from Florida after all. You can read Richards' blog at here. George wrote yesterday that there's a lot of Texas pride in the Lone Star State. I think there's a lot of All-Star pride in this city. These people have got the All-Star logo on everything – from skyscrapers and hotel promenades to parkas, meal checks, polo shirts and hotel room key cards. If you're in Dallas and you don't know there's an All-Star game then you and Helen Keller have got something in common.

The biggest news of the morning comes from the NHL Board of Governors Meeting at the Hyatt Regency, where it looks like the league schedule will remain the same next year – which means Cats fans will get ample opportunity hate on the Hurricanes and Lightning.

Just to add a little bit of insight to the new jersey unveiling yesterday, I think the whole league is going to get a fresher cooler look once the new Rbk Edge uniforms are implemented next year. If you watched any of the World Junior Tournament, which featured similar tight-fitting unis, you saw a game that just "looked" smoother and faster, with a lot more open ice and clear fluidity of movement.

Granted it was on the significantly larger International ice surface, but we'll get a better idea of how its going to look in an actual NHL setting during tomorrow night's All-Star game.

On another sidenote, I think I am approaching the Guiness World Record for most hotels visited in a short period of time. I've already been to four in the last 36 hours. I kind of feel like Tom Hanks in The Terminal, like I'm stuck in traveling man limbo. Where's Catherine Zeta-Jones when you need her.

I'll be blogging again tonight during the skills competition and the NHL YoungStars Game.

Blog you later.


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