RALEIGH — It may have been a long time coming, but the Triangle received rave reviews for its work hosting the NHL All-Star Game.
On the ice at the RBC Center, Team Staal, captained by the host Carolina Hurricanes' own Eric Staal, jumped out to a four-goal lead before falling 11-10 to Team Lidstrom, captained by Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. But as the hockey fans of the Triangle discovered this weekend, the game is only part of the fun.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman first promised to bring an All-Star Game to Raleigh back in 2001. There were various roadblocks along the way, but when the time came, the Triangle was able to pull things together in a mere nine months - and put on a good show in the process.
"Raleigh has waited a long time for the opportunity to host the All-Star events," Bettman acknowledged, "and has done an excellent job of making the NHL family feel welcome."
On Sunday, the NHL worked Hurricanes legends Ron Francis, Rod Brind'Amour and Glen Wesley into the opening ceremonies. But the biggest cheers came in the third period when Staal scored twice in the losing effort.
"We felt the energy, the build-up coming into the weekend, being in the community," Staal said. "The fans were excited, and they delivered. I'm very proud of our fans and how they showed their support for this event, came out in throngs, were tailgating, doing all the things we know that they do."