Over the course of the weekend, fans of the game were treated to outstanding entertainment at the Winter Park and at the Fan Fest. They enjoyed interactions with the players, coaches, and the media that cover the game.
And how about the weather. Just a week ago, Nashville was hit with a major snowstorm. All Star weekend saw sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 60's.
I knew the organizing committee had a lot of clout, but that was amazing1
Here are some thoughts and observations about the event:
- Kudos to all who worked to put this together. It was obvious that lots of planning and forethought had been put into the event to make the fan experience exceptional. The event was laid out with everything in walking distance. This helped ease traffic problems and allowed the fans to mingle and interact easily with each other. People all across the country- fans of every team- got to visit and experience the warmth and hospitality of Smashville. And many discovered what the residents here already knew- Nashville is a gem.
- There was an abundance of volunteers to make sure that everything went smoothly and that fans knew where to go and had assistance when they needed it. This speaks to the organization of this event and to the people that worked behind the scenes to make it an exceptional experience for those in attendance. The work that went into this effort was massive and everyone, from Predators ownership and staff, the League, and the organizing committee are to be commended.
- Don't underestimate the proximity of all the venues. I had a chance to talk to some people that had been to other All Star games and to a person they said that having everything in walking distance was a huge plus for this event. Being able to move easily from the Winter Park to the Convention Center to concert venues to the entertainment district downtown was a huge, HUGE, plus. I heard many say this made their experience much more enjoyable.
- Nashville really had a chance to shine and showcase the talent of the entertainers that call this great city home. And the music community didn't disappoint. One of the consistent comments that I heard from so many visitors was the musical talent that was on display was so impressive. And believe me, they were impressive. The response from visitors at some of the shows was almost giddy. I had a chance to catch Chip Esten's show on the Honda stage at Fan Fest on Saturday and it was impressive. And our guests were impressed. Really impressed.
- The game itself was better than any All Star game I have seen. There was intensity and competitiveness and an opportunity for the players to shine. It was actually compelling to watch, and that sentiment was echoed to me by friends that watched the game on TV. I think the League has found a format that will work going forward as not only the fans but the players seemed to enjoy the 3 on 2 game.
- A great crowd for both the skills competition and the game. Enthusiastic, responsive, and loud. And good on the fans for their response to and support of John Scott. A great story that only served to take the event to another level.
Saturday's activities started with a Prayer breakfast at the Renaissance Hotel. Stu Grimson served as Master of Ceremonies and several speakers shared their faith. Mike "Doc" Emrick spoke and was a humble and engaging speaker. I had a chance to visit with Doc after the program and he is a genuine and personable individual.
Former Predators head Coach and current Washington Capitals Head Coach Barry Trotz spoke and gave a powerful testimony and of course was a crowd favorite.
Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene spoke and is quite an impressive young man. Afterwards, he stayed around to visit with those in attendance. Here he is with my son, Matt, and myself.
Chip Esten performs on the Honda stage at the Fan Fest. He drew a large and enthusiastic crowd and was one of the many talented performers that appeared on the various music stages throughout the weekend.
A street scen looking at the Honda Winter Park outdoor stage. The crowds were huge for the many performances. I was about a block away from the stage, which was as close as I could get. Big ups to the sound technicians as the sound that far away was a good as it would be if I were up close.
There were lots of exhibits and interactive games at the Fan Fest. I will say, the Velveeta cheese fountain was the most unusual.
There were lots of opportunities to interact with the players and coaches. here, Pete Weber interviews Roman Josi at the Discover Theater. Fans had a chance to ask questions directly of the players and the interactions and condor from the players was exceptional.
The Western Conference players warm up before the skills competition.
Lee Brice warms up the crowd before the player introductions at the game
The All Stars on the ice for the game introductions
Jennifer Nettles performs at the intermission of the game. Notice a few players came out of the locker room and sat on the ice to take in her performance
The weekend was exceptional. Nashville has stepped up its game and has set the bar extremely high for future games.
Once again, thanks to all who made this outstanding event happen.