I’ve been lucky enough thus far in my 22 year journey on this strange place called Earth to encounter many amazing experiences and interact with some amazing people. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time with NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL players and there’s no doubt about it that professional hockey players are by far the best group of guys out of the major four American sports.
I’ve spent the last few days out in Vegas covering the National Hockey League awards and man what a blast that was. Everything from media day to interacting with players around the hotel to the awards show itself was an awesome experience.
Here’s what I learned from the NHL Awards.
Patrice Bergeron is a model athlete:
Every young fan of every sport has those guys that they idolize; pretend to be in their backyard,—for me it was Cam Neely and Nomar Garciaparra— and hope to be someday. Well folks if your kid wan’s to be like an NHL player, let it be Patrice Bergeron.
Bergeron is as classy as they come and it really showed this week. Bergeron was very humble about his nomination and Selke victory. When speaking to him and listening his answers you could tell he truly was honored by this.
This biggest thing I took from the whole Bergeron angle was the respect his peers have for him, especially his Captain, Zdeno Chara. I asked Chara how excited he was that Bergeron was finally nominated for the Selke award and Big Z nailed it. Chara had nothing but great things to say about Bergeron and you could tell he really meant what he was saying, it really opened eyes for me.
Fast forward to the 1:28 mark to hear Z answer my question about Bergeron.
Pavel Datsyuk, the comedian:
I’ve always been a fan of Pavel Datsyuk, I mean come on how can’t you be? But after media day I’m as big of a fan as I ever am. It’s easy for some guys to be frustrated with doing the whole “media day”, and to be honest I can’t blame them, but that certainly was not the case for Datsyuk.
Datsyuk was pure media gold. Despite his broken hard-to-understand accent, Datsyuk answered everything the media had for him, and answered thoroughly. What I enjoyed was how Datsyuk cracked a joke at the end of every question and really showed that despite doing this whole NHL Awards media day for what seems like the 64th time, Datsyuk was really enjoying himself.
John Tortorella is a very nice guy:
If you watch any Rangers game and see Tortorella behind the bench, you probably think he’s a jerk. If you watched his press conference and saw his short fuse with the media, you would think Tortorella was a jerk. If you saw “Torts” up close like I did this week, you’d see the real Tortorella who actually is one hell of a nice guy.
“Torts” was great with the media and actually gave multiple sentence answers, imagine that? We asked Tortorella to stop for a picture on the red carpet; he smiled and asked who would like to hop in the photo with him. After we thanked him for his time he responded with “my pleasure”. Look at that folks, Tortorella has himself a soft side.
Henrik Lundqvist is just awesome:
I won’t deny that I’ve developed a bit of a man crush on Henrik Lundqvist, but I mean can you blame me? Not only is he the best goalie in hockey, he’s got sweet hair, and always dresses like a million bucks. A bit over the top, maybe, so I’ll stop here.