In part one of my Skate with the Canes recap, I talked about the first of three sessions that allowed for a lot of interaction with the players, including my some of my favorites – Jeff Skinner, Jordan Staal, Eddie Lack and Kris Versteeg.

The second session of the day didn’t allow for as much one-on-one time with players, but I did have the chance to tell rookie Noah Hanifin that I bought my skates at Medford Square Sporting Goods long before he was even born. (And, yes, that makes me feel very old!)

Hanifin was one of four players posing for a group photo in the team’s weight room. I snuck in between Riley Nash and Brett Pesce while Brad Malone was on end opposite from Noah for what could have substituted for an old school photo. Everyone is so prim and proper.

Locker Room Photos

Locker Room Photo sessions with Captain Eric Staal and the boys.

The second photo op featured me sandwiched between Victor Rask and Eric Staal with Michal Jordan and Brock McGinn as bookends. As much as I enjoyed seeing the locker room area with all its murals and hockey equipment, it wasn’t really a highlight of the day. Honestly, I was shocked at how small the area is in comparison to other NHL and college locker rooms I’ve seen. I remember even the visitor’s at the old Capitals arena in Landover, Md. had larger accommodations.

The final 40 minutes was an autograph session with the remaining eight players and also included a brief opportunity to meet and greet the Carolina Hurricanes broadcast crew. I’ve listened to Chuck Kaiton on the radio and John Forslund as the television play-by-play since the team was in Hartford so I jumped at the chance to say hello. Forslund and I also have the Springfield Falcons in common so we reminisced about my old boss there. When I introduced myself to the Canes color analyst Tripp Tracy, I told him we had met before, that in fact, I interviewed both he and his roommate Jason Karmanos (who is the assistant general manager in Pittsburgh) twice in college. Michelle McMahon also remembered me from our interview during the 5K back in September.

Canes Broadcast

Locker Room Photo sessions with Captain Eric Staal and the boys.

Finally, we were able to step up to the tables to meet the players. I wished Phillip Di Giuseppe well as he was recuperating from a concussion at the time. He is such a spectacular addition to the Skinner and Rask line. I told John Michael-Liles, another favorite, that we’d come up from Florida and would see him in Tampa on March 5 when the Canes play the Bolts, but I was so angry later that I never took a photo with those two. Elias Lindholm and Cam Ward rounded out that four.

Skate with the Canes 2

Selfies with (clockwise from top left) Andrej Nestrasil and Jay McClement, Cam Ward and Justin Faulk and Jaccob Slavin. Plus a jersey worth of signatures.

The second table was Andrej Nestrasil and Jay McClement. I borrowed Nesty’s long arms for a selfie before moving on to Justin Faulk and lastly, Jaccob Slavin. I don’t think poor Slavin understands how to take a selfie.

Skate with the Canes may be a benefit for the Hurricanes Kids and Community Foundation but I’m not entirely certain that I didn’t benefit from the experience myself. I’d love to make it an annual trip to Raleigh.