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January 29, 2011

Eric Staal

Cam Ward


MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Eric and Cam.

Q. Can you both talk a little bit about how Raleigh and this community has grown as a hockey town during your careers here and how it's been received just over the course of both of your careers?
ERIC STAAL: I think me coming in at 18 not knowing what to expect, not knowing much about North Carolina in general, I think it's grown a tremendous amount. I think starting from the grassroots, the Youth Hockey and all the way up, there's starting to become a real strong base of support for this team and for hockey in general. And it's been exciting for me to be a part of that and watch it grow, and it's only going to get bigger.
I think as our team continues to get better as it is now with younger guys, and I think the game's going to continue to grow like it has.
CAM WARD: For me, coming into '06 obviously winning the Stanley Cup really started the roots here in Raleigh. I can't speak about what happened before then. But ever since we've had a really loyal group of fans that have been able to support us for years and years.
I knew - I heard about how excited Raleigh was about hosting the All-Star game, but, man, walking that red carpet, I didn't expect it to be that big of a buzz. And it's great to see that. I think you talk to families, you talk to kids, the Youth, Minor Hockey program has really continued to grow in the North Carolina area, and that's great to see.
The feedback from the fans even from this weekend it's been tremendous.

Q. Eric, can you talk a little bit about the goalie race idea, where that came from? And Cam said it wasn't his idea, but, Cam, I guess you were a willing participant in the end. Can you both talk about how you started and, Cam, about how it ended?
ERIC STAAL: There's been as I think everyone can tell a lot of different things going on this weekend. So it's kind of a - it was talked about while we were doing the picking for certain events, and Shanahan and a member from the PA, Devin Smith, were talking about maybe getting the goalies to do -- whether it was target shooting or the skating.
And so we picked two goalies and asked if they were willing combatants, and they were. And I think it just shows another element to a goaltender. I mean, they don't just stand there. They're pretty athletic. And I thought you saw both of them going around pretty good. I bet a lot of people in the crowd were quite impressed with -- I think they did it in, what, 16 seconds or 17 seconds or something like that. And they're not only goalies that stand there and deflect pucks out of the net, they are definitely very athletic and can skate, and you saw that.
CAM WARD: After I got selected for the All-Star game I got a phone call from the league, and then they were talking about these ideas that they wanted to get us incorporated into a little bit more of the skills competition.
And the idea was to have a goalie race and the shooting targets. And then I figured it was up to the captain to decide what I was going to be doing, but hoping that it was going to be the skating. But I got a call today and said that they didn't want to do the shooting accuracy anymore but would I be open to the idea of skating.
Nobody else wanted to do it but Tim Thomas. And then I said, Well, hey, it's the home crowd, I'll just have fun with it and see what happens. And luckily he had a little bit of a fall in the corner and I could coast right in. So it wasn't so bad.

Q. Eric, for someone who hasn't been around Raleigh this season, can you explain what's gone on here with Jeff Skinner? Seems like he's a rock star here with the fans here.
ERIC STAAL: He's got -- Cam started it.
CAM WARD: He's going to steal my line right now.
ERIC STAAL: He seems to be the Justin Bieber of the area, especially this weekend. I think it's just - you know when you are around Jeff, it's just his personality and his smile and his energy that I think for fans make you excited to cheer for him. You just want him to do well.
It's just an exciting thing. He's a young guy. He's 18. He's in the All-Star game. There's a ton of exciting things that are going on. And I think the way he handles himself, you can see the type of person he is when he talks to the media, when he talks to other people.
I think you can see the type of personal and people have grown to really like him, and they should. And it's fun for Cam and I to see him on a regular basis every day. And he's a great player. He's going to play a very long time. He's going to score a lot of goals in this league. And it's exciting that he's a part of this this weekend right away.

Q. Eric, could you comment - you win on Draft night getting the team you wanted. You win tonight. Can you go 3-for-3 and get the hat trick tomorrow? And if both of you would address just the reception you guys got tonight from the crowd.
ERIC STAAL: Yeah, we're obviously shooting for 3-for-3. The game's going to be a little bit different than the skills competition that you saw tonight. But there was a ton of skill on tonight. It was a lot of fun to be a part of that.
It's been a wonderful weekend. I can't say anything else. It's been awesome. The support that both Cam and I received, the ovation coming onto the ice tonight, wanted to do a full lap as hard as I could. It gives you that type of energy. It was a lot of fun I think tomorrow's going to be a blast for our fans to see the game on showcase with some of the talent out there, and hopefully for the home crowd we can get it done.

Q. Eric, I'd like to go back to your team picking skills, how do you think you did as a GM composing the team under this format?
ERIC STAAL: I thought we did pretty good. Obviously we'll see tomorrow in the game. But tonight worked out with some good wins and some of the events.
But it was neat to just be a part of that experience and be able to be standing there picking from the best hockey players in the world. Not many people get to do that. So something I'll remember for the rest of my life.
And it was the first time for everyone, and I thought it turned out pretty cool.

Q. Cam, I know it's your first All-Star game, but given that it's in your home rink, you get picked first in front of the home crowd at the Draft last night, gotta be special how this whole weekend unfolded?
CAM WARD: It sure has. Going into the season knowing that the All-Star game was going to be in Raleigh, it was definitely a goal of mine to play well in hopes to be selected and taking part of the festivities.
Really, to be able to have my first NHL All-Star game in my home city has made it extra -- that much more special. And it definitely helped having a good friend and teammate up there on Draft day so he didn't make me sweat it out as bad as some of the other guys on Draft day.
But I think we talked about it before, that it was important that to us that we were on the same team, too, and it was great that Jeff Skinner and McBain were on the same side, too, that we could support one another and the home fans could be all on one side.

Q. Cam, how often do you work on your speed skating? And also, Eric, what do you think you would do around the rink in full goalie pads?
CAM WARD: Not very often do I do a hard full lap. I know Coach Mau likes to have some skates at the end of the practice, but I usually just coast around and do my thing. But I was a little bit concerned, too, because Justin Peters is a very faster skater, and he's definitely faster than me.
So I was kind of concerned. I was trying to look up how Tim Thomas could skate. But knowing Tim and how competitive he is, you knew he was going to be going as hard as he could out there. But didn't really put too much thought into it. I was just going to have a good time and, like I said, I was just trying not to fall into the corner.
ERIC STAAL: I'm way too smart to put on goalie equipment. I would never do that. (Laughter.) If I did, it wouldn't be fast.

Q. Can you break down how much the goalie pads weigh and how difficult it is to skate that fast?
CAM WARD: Well, a lot of people ask that. I guess the more you play on the ice, the wetter that they get, the more weight you add to your pads, but I haven't actually put it on a scale. I couldn't tell you how much it weighed.
But, yeah, I think it's a little bit more difficult obviously when you have some pillows on your legs and skating around. You didn't see me do any crossovers behind the net or anything like that or else I would have fell.
But it's just part of me now. I mean, I couldn't tell you how much it weighed, though, or anything like that.
ERIC STAAL: It's a lot harder than it looks, I would say that. It definitely is.

Q. Eric, I was wondering what you thought about Patrick Kane using the do-over to sort of beat you there?
ERIC STAAL: That was brutal. I had a rhythm going, I thought. And apparently the Chicago Blackhawks got a little favored because Jonathan Toews I believe screwed up the other one, too. So, no, but Kane was hot. Once we got started I tried to get regrouped and he was ripping them down.
So it was fun. It was fun to be out there and enjoying that whole thing with everybody.

Q. But you had it won before that?
ERIC STAAL: Probably would have locked it up. I was feeling good. I had that bottom picked and was moving on. But we'll never know. So, oh well.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts

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