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Reporter's Notebook: San Jose welcomes the NHL stars
Players talk to the press, with Shark fans watching the festivities
1/24/19 - By Paul Krill -

With the NHL All Star Game in town this weekend, San Jose played host to the NHL All Stars at the Civic Center downtown on Thursday evening, for All Star Media Day. It was kind of a zoo-like setup for the fans who were there; we could see the players from a distance but not approach them. We could watch interviews from the stands, listening to one at a time from a selection given to us on this earphone device.

"It's a young man's game," noted Tampa Bay all star Steven Stamkos, now 29 years old. "We love coming here," Stamkos said, presumably talking about his Bay Area visit.

Stamkos's answers could be heard clearly, but the questions he was answering could not. (Personally, I see Stamkos as Tampa's reward in 2008 for the team's total collapse; the Lightning were Stanley Cup champs in 2004 and picking first in the draft just four years later after finishing last in the league. But that's another story, I guess.)

From my vantage point, I also could see guys like John Tavares, Auston Matthews, and Patrick Kane. Upon his introduction, Tavares received a smattering of boos from the crowd, undoubtedly for his interviewing with the Sharks as a free agent last summer and then snubbing them, opting to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs, instead. Matthews, asked about the All Star skills competition, favored the hardest shot competition.

The interviewer noted Alex Ovechkin, last year's winner, is a no-show for this year's All Star Game, (Shame, since Ovechkin has put on a good All Star show in the past.) Matthews was asked about dinner with teammate and former Shark Patrick Marleau and his family; Matthews said Marleau's kids (four sons) can be pretty wild at times.

Then, it was time for the Pacific Division, as in the Sharks' Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns, and Erik Karlsson. All received standing ovations from the home crowd, who started a "Let's go Sharks! chant. With their interviews being conducted concurrently at first, I had to pretty much choose just one. So I chose Pavelski.

"Obviously we're excited to be hosting," he said.

He noted that the All Star game gives players a chance to play with players they might not ordinarily like. He applauded the Sharks' fans' passion.

"When we're playing at home, I think it's one of the tougher buildings to play in."

Pavelski also said Sharks' GM Doug Wilson and franchise owner Hasso Plattner have always given the Sharks a chance to win, making moves like bringing in Karlsson. He cited Brett Hull as his inspiration growing up. Burns, singled out for a subsequent interview after all the others had completed theirs, also saluted the San Jose fans: "We've been blessed with great support here ever since I've been here and this is no different." Asked who is #1 for pranks on the Sharks, Burns named Pavelski as the team's chief prankster.

It's nice to see the Sharks hosting this game again. I was at the 1997 All Star Game, the only other time the game was held here. That event was marked by Owen Nolan pointing to where, exactly, he would shoot on goalie Dominic Hasek, but Nolan scored just the same. I remember having a bad case of the flu that weekend, but going to all the festivities, anyway.

At the time, I didn't think I'd ever get another chance to see an NHL All Star Game, so I made no accommodations for illness. This time around, my daughter, Cara, not born yet in 1997, will be going to the game with me. I hope this weekend can be as much fun as that one was and I'll stay healthy, too.

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