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Eric Staal chooses the Best Player Available for the first ever NHL All-Star Fantasy draft, Cam Ward. Photo by LTD

Eric Staal got all his boys last night as Cam Ward, Jeff Skinner, Marc Staal, and even Jamie McBain will playing on the home team this weekend. While everything I've seen out there seems to suggest the Team Lidstrom will be wallking away with the win Sunday afternoon, I'm thinking those predictions are missing the point of the new format. Here's the latest collection of stories about the 2011 NHL All Star Weekend here in Raleigh, North Carolina.

'Canes, Staal ready for all-star spotlight - The Globe and Mail As the unofficial host of the league's all-star weekend, the Carolina Hurricanes captain will be front and centre throughout. There was a charity announcement to attend Friday afternoon and 90 minutes of live television in the evening while drafting Team Staal.

ESPN America Blogs -  In Raleigh for the NHL All Star Weekend : Any preconceived ideas we may have had about Raleigh not being a hockey town are well and truly gone!

Carolina On My Mind - And I'm Lovin' It - Versus' Adrian Dater Raleigh seems genuinely jazzed to host the game this year. If there is one group of fans that has been unfairly lumped in with the rest of the laggards, interest-wise, of the NHL’s "southern expansion" NHL, it’s Carolina. 

Cox: All-star draft shines spotlight on NHL’s future - thestar.com The Hurricanes’ Jeff Skinner, 18, kept using one word to describe the hoopla around the TV event: "Surreal".

Marc Staal Gets Impatient Video - Still waiting to be selected, Marc has some choice words for his brother, Eric.

 

Live from the Fantasy Draft Friday night

 

Jeff Skinner to go #1? NHL Network's  predraft show video:  J.R. and Kevin Weekes discuss the possibility of the Carolina rookie being selected first; Deb Placey also chats with Skinner himself.

 

WRAL.com has posted their uncut video with the Canes players from post-draft Friday night here: Eric Staal video, Cam Ward video, Jeff Skinner  video.

All-Stars address state of NHL, head shots in SI straw poll - Sarah Kwak - SI.com Asked what he would like to see the NHL do to grow the game, Cam Ward said:

"I'd like [the league] to take another look at the shootouts. I think it would be good to go three-on-three if four-on-four doesn't break the tie. We've run the shootout and I'd like to see that change.... [As far as growing the game], look at what we've done here [in Raleigh]. I think the question is what can work, how hard you're willing to work to make it a success."

As All-Stars Briere and Giroux not friends, but rivals They live together. They're known for doing everything together. But at the NHL All-Star game, Danny Briere and Claude Giroux will be pitted against eachother.

Video: Matt Duchene on NHL Fantasy Draft, sweating out last picks - Puck Daddy

 

Carolina  Hockey beyond the weekend's events

I thought this was a huge announcement that may have been lost in the craziness yesterday: Canes' owner delivers - NewsObserver.com Karmanos is the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Compuware, the Detroit-based software firm. He said Friday he planned to retire from the company March 31, 2013, and would move to Raleigh. 

 Karmanos was on the NHL Hour with Commissioner Gary Bettman Thursday night. This is a recap of his comments. Karmanos discusses hockey's growth in Raleigh As owner of the Hurricanes, Peter Karmanos has seen hockey grow in the non-traditional marker of Raleigh, North Carolina.

LaFontaine's charity assisting children in need  On Friday afternoon, the NHL, the Carolina Hurricanes and LaFontaine unveiled a state-of-the-art "NHL Legacy Classroom" at North Carolina's Children's Hospital to commemorate the 2011 NHL All-Star Weekend in Raleigh. The "Legacy Classroom" features Cisco's online conferencing system, WebEx, that allows young patients to connect to family, friends, schools and teachers anywhere in the world during a hospital stay.

Extended Video Interview: Rod Brind'Amour - WRALSportsFan.com Brind'Amour has enjoyed working with the Hurricanes' young players, but doesn't know if he'll ever try being a head coach.

 

Audio and Video Links

Jeff Skinner on being named an All-Star - WRALSportsFan.com - from Wednesday afternoon after getting the news he'd be in Sunday's game

Burnside says Canes still not ready for the playoffs - WRALSportsFan.com ESPN.com NHL writer Scott Burnside joined Chris and Tim on the Sports Experience. Though he thinks the Canes are a year away from making the playoffs, he does say they're the only team outside the Top 8 that has a chance at postseason play.

Forslund with NHL Live Thursday afternoon (9 minutes) - which closes with yet another great ChuckandtheletterK impression

Jamie McBain calls in to NHL Live from Thursday afternoon after being named to the rookie squad.

Here's the much anticipated Jeff Skinner "Canes Corner" with Mike Maniscalco [about 45 minutes] 

NHLPA.  Player Of The Week JEFF SKINNER - 25 JANUARY, 2011 Now while the world of professional hockey is certainly becoming a younger man’s game, to see what Jeff Skinner is doing this season in Carolina makes fans, and media alike, stop and take notice.

More video on Skinner, this time from the Players association. Jeff Skinner: video from NHLPA, where Jeff talks about fitness goals during the summer vs. during the season

 

All-Star Weekend pages from the media covering it all

 

Keep checking back here for the most thorough coverage from both local and league-wide sources.

2011 NHL All Star Game - SBNation.com

NHL All-Star Game from Versus TV

NewsObserver.com | NHL All-Star Weekend

The NHL's official All-Star Weekend page - lots of stories and videos

FoxSports South (You'll need to click on "Hockey" tab below the video viewer for links to many many videos.)