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NHL's Eric Staal and Cam Ward Discuss Fantasy Draft

Eric Staal and Cam Ward--NHL Fantasy Draft Eric Staal and Cam Ward--NHL Fantasy Draft

During the first-ever NHL Fantasy Draft in Raleigh, North Carolina, Team Staal Captain Eric Staal ended up picking a roster filled with NHL video game cover athletes. Staal, Assistant Captain Ryan Kesler (Vancouver Canucks), Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals), and Rick Nash (Columbus Blue Jackets) were all on the cover of either the EA Sports or 2K Sports hockey video game. Throughout the NHL SuperSkills Challenge, EA Sports NHL 11 was used to explain each of the skills challenges. Team Staal ended up beating Team Lidstrom 33-22 in front of a sold out RBC Center. Staal and his teammate goalie Cam Ward are both gamers. They talk about celebrating All-Star Weekend on their home ice.

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.

What are your thoughts on the local reception to having the NHL All-Star Game in Raleigh?

WARD: 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 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.

Eric, can you talk a little bit about the goalie race idea and where that came from?

STAAL: There's been, as I think everyone can tell, a lot of different things going on this weekend. 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 something -- whether it was target shooting or the skating.

How receptive were the goalies to this idea?

STAAL: 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 them. I think they did it in 16 seconds or 17 seconds or something like that. 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.

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.

Why was it just the two goalies?

WARD: 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.

Cam, how often do you work on your speed skating?

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, what do you think you would do around the rink in full goalie pads?

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.

Cam, can you break down how much the goalie pads weigh and how difficult it is to skate that fast?

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.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 fallen.But it's just part of me now. I mean, I couldn't tell you how much it weighed, though, or anything like that.

STAAL: It's a lot harder than it looks, I would say that. It definitely is.

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Team Staal and Team Lidstrom pick their choices in the NHL Fantasy Draft 2011
Last modified on Thursday, 20 September 2012 13:55

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