By Joe Haggerty
RALEIGH, N.C. Now that its over and in the books, we can take stock with a little whats good and whats bad about NHL All-Star weekend in its latest form down in Hurricanes country.
It was largely a successful weekend with the turnout of Carolina Hurricanes fans and the great southern tailgating atmosphere outside the RBC Center prior to the game a wrinkle that 'Canes fanes have brought with them from college football and inserted them into hockey, where many traditional markets dont have the space or setup for it.Heres a quick breakdown:The Good: The NHL fantasy draft was an unmitigated hit and is something many of the other sports could learn from with their own over-hyped exhibitions. The fastest skater competition and hardest shot competition continue to be the stalwarts of the SuperSkills Challenge portion of the weekend. The goalie race was six different flavors of awesome. Carolina proves that a Sun Belt southern team can host an All-Star weekend and do it with the same effectiveness as the traditional markets. The Fan Fair portion of the events hosted by Carolina was excellent.The Bad: Much of the SuperSkills competition dragged and didnt really captivate. The All-Star Game on Sunday continues to be a gigantic bore with no real effort or intensity the two things that normally define what good hockey is all about. The NHL completely botched the media access portion of the event by allowing only red carpet type access to the players, which means that outlets spent good money to get access ranging only slightly higher than what the paparazzi receives. That needs to never happen again unless the NHL is happy with nobody covering them. Two words: Clay Aiken. Two more words: Guardian Project.On to the links: An interesting NHL player poll done by CBC and the NHLPA which reveals, among other things, that Zdeno Chara has the most fearsome slap shot on the planet, and that players really, really dont want to play for the Islanders. A really sad story about Rhode Island native and Harvard hockey alumnus Tommy Cavanaugh, who seemed to have everything but was battling serious mental illness throughhis entire life to a tragic end. Suddenly Mike Felger has developed some remorse and pity for Phil Kessel? Interesting he does thiswhen his NHL peers didnt seem to extend that kind of empathy orunderstanding during the drafting process. Bill Meltzers take at hockeybuzz.com on potential second-half shake outs for some Eastern Conference teams. The AHL All-Star game is in Hershey, a great hockey stop and an excellent place for the minor league hockey world to convene for the week. Jamie Arniel will participate in the skills challenge and All-Star game while representingthe Providence Bruins. A few more All-Star thoughts from Friend of Haggs (FOH) Yahoo! Sports hockey blogger Puck Daddy now that the weekend has come to a close. The Daddy battled marvelously despite a head cold that plagued him throughout the events. Fellow FOH Craig Custance from the Sporting News says that some of the other Southern Fried hockey teams could learn a thing or two from the Carolina Hurricanes franchise.