The Dallas Stars will be off the next few days, but not center Tyler Seguin. He's heading to Los Angeles for the 2017 NHL All-Star Game.
"It's great. It's always a fun weekend," Seguin said. "It's an opportunity to meet other players in the league that you might not like on the ice but off the ice turn out to be pretty good guys. We're all pretty much the same. I've never not had a good time at one of these events, so I am looking forward to it."
This will be Seguin's fourth time at the All-Star game, but he still likes to soak in what goes on around him as he spends time with other top players in the league.
"People watching. I like to watch how some of the best players prepare for something even as small as an All-Star game," Seguin said. "I watch little things, like how certain guys tape their sticks. I think we are little kids and fans of the game and we enjoy that stuff."
This year's game will feature several first-time All-Stars including Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, and Patrik Laine to name a few. Seguin still remembers what it was like to go to his first All-Star game in Ottawa (2012) and experience that initial opportunity to spend time with some of the game's elite players.
"I was always in awe of Sid [Crosby] before I knew him and the Datsyuks and Ovechkins, those kind of guys," he said. "Then you get to know some of the guys, and you realize we all put on the pants the same way and tie the skates the same way."
Seguin, who is making his third straight appearance at the NHL All-Star Game, is one of 40 players selected by NHL Hockey Operations to play in this year's event, joining the four team captains selected by fan vote.
This will be the second straight year the All-Star Game will actually be a three-on-three tournament between All-Star teams from the NHL's four divisions. There will be two semifinal games and a championship game, all running 20 minutes. Each team has eleven players: six forwards, three defensemen, and two goaltenders.
As an added incentive, there is a $1 million prize to be split among the winning team. The hope last year was to make the All-Star game more competitive, and it appeared to work. Seguin agreed.
"The three-on-three is a lot more competitive," Seguin said. "I did enjoy it. It's the first All-Star game where I was actually tired after the game."
Last year in Nashville, Seguin tallied three points (one goal, two assists) in the Central Division's 9-6 loss to the Pacific Division in the semifinals. The Pacific Division went on to win the tournament, defeating the Atlantic Division, 1-0, in the championship game.
Seguin will take part in the two events in the Skills Competition on Saturday. He'll handle the puck control portion of the Skills Challenge Relay, and he will be a shooter in the new Four Line Challenge, where players will try to score from the near blue line, center line, far blue line and far goal line.
"I think that new [Four Line Challenge] will be intriguing," Seguin said. "I was out there shooting some pucks from the red line, checking it out."
Along with Sunday's tournament and Saturday's skills competition, there are events off the ice on All-Star weekend as well. To mark the league's Centennial Celebration, the NHL is announcing its 100 greatest players of all-time. The league announced the first 33 earlier this month and will reveal the final 67 as a part of the All-Star weekend festivities. That will be a highlight for Seguin.
"There's a pre-event where we are going to get to meet everyone. That's probably the main event I am most looking forward to, seeing some of those players," Seguin said. "It's going to be the greatest of all-time, and we're going to be in the same room. There's probably going to be a few Instagram pictures out there. I am looking forward to the event."
2017 NHL All-Star Weekend
Sat., Jan. 28: Skills Competition, 6 p.m. CT (NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS)
Sun., Jan. 29: NHL All-Star Game, 2:30 p.m. CT (NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS)