Consider yourself lucky if you found tickets to Skate with the Canes in your Christmas stocking. The Carolina Hurricanes held their annual event for a sold-out crowd on December 30th, with proceeds benefitting the Kids 'N Community Foundation, and as usual the event did not disappoint and offered plenty of fun for Caniacs of all ages.
My family attended along with Canes Country regular contributors Caniacgirl, Raccoon Fink, and Cyn4Canes, all of whom I hope will provide additional commentary (along with anyone else who attended). With the variety of events and opportunity for player interaction, there are always so many unique stories.
A little background... The event is limited to 600 participants, broken up into three groups of 200. The players are divided into three groups as well, and each group of participants and players rotate through three main events, giving an opportunity to meet all of the players during the course of the evening.
I was in the "blue line" group and this was the order of our events, others rotated differently as did the players:
1) Locker room session – You tour around the locker room and then participate in posed photo shoots in the weight room and locker room. The following players were in our locker room photo shoot session: Jiri Tlusty, Tim Gleason, Pat Dwyer, Joe Corvo, Tuomo Ruutu, Chad LaRose, and Jay Harrison.
2) Autograph session – Two tables are set up in the West Priority lounge for player autographs, and new this year, a photo op in an FSN studio backdrop with John Forslund and Tripp Tracy! At our autograph session were Jamie McBain, Brandon Sutter, Cam Ward, Zach Boychuk, Erik Cole, Ian White, and Sergei Samsonov.
3) Skate session – Strap on blades and step onto the hallowed ice of Stanley Cup champions to test your skill against the best in the world (those not wishing to skate can watch from accessible sidelines). At our skate session were Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner, Ryan Carter, Justin Peters, Troy Bodie, and Jussi Jokinen.
Several extra-curricular activities surrounded the RBC Center concourse including food and beverage, slap shot booth, bounce house, and raffles for player- and team-signed items.
A few quick notes (again I encourage others to please report in as well):
- Jussi was in our on-ice group but did not skate, he stayed at the bench for autographs and photos. I did speak to him briefly and he is hoping to be able to play in Saturday's game.
- To my knowledge Joni Pitkanen did not participate in the event; he was not in any of our sessions and I didn't see him coming or going from any of the other sessions.
- Jiri Tlusty skated on the ice with his group.
- None of the coaches participated, just the players along with the Storm Squad, Stormy, Ron the Ref, and aforementioned FSN celebrities.
- Several folks noticed that Cam Ward has been pushing up his jersey sleeves this season, so I asked him about it. He said it was to attempt to keep the sweat away from his arms and gloves, and that the refs weren't particularly fond of it.
- Zach Boychuk was very delighted to be there (fer sherr), he was all smiles during the entire event.
- I thanked Ryan Carter for his help with our face-off stats.
- And yes, for those who dared me on twitter, I did tell Jeff Skinner that some of us call him "Sk8erboi". He gave me a big laugh, just like I thought he would. I did not see him attempt a triple salchow although there were a few shenanigans on the ice from several players.
My photos from the event are posted in this album (note: more photos forthcoming). As well, don't miss this great shot from RF and Cyn from their FSN photo op.
This was my fifth year attending Skate with the Canes, and it's on my family's list of "can't miss" events. Many thanks to the Kids 'N Community Foundation, the Hurricanes players and staff, and RBC Center staff for making this yet again a special night to remember!