Personally, I've never been to an NHL All-Star Weekend before. I've been to a few different big NHL events -- Winter Classics, Drafts, Finals, etc -- but this is my first All-Star Game. Because of that, I might not be an authority on the atmosphere at these types of things, but I will say that the fans here in Raleigh are absolutely impressing.
Let's not pretend like the format of this weekend's events don't have anything to do with that. The fact that Team Staal is captained by their captain Eric, and that two of his teammates, Cam Ward and local hero Jeff Skinner, are also on that side. It leads to a lot more pride among the RBC Center faithful, because it's like they're cheering for their Canes, not just some stuffy Eastern Conference team that they don't really care for.
After all, there's not really such a thing as Eastern Conference pride, but there's certainly pride involved when cheering for your favorite player.
During the night's first event, the Fastest Skater competition sponsored by some-such company, it didn't matter that Mike Green of the hated Washington Capitals was on Team Staal. Unlike a lot of other All-Star Games, it's clear that this crowd has a rooting interest. They care. Usually at these events, you can tell even from television that the fans have a general attitude of "Oh, hey... that's cool. Let's go get a beer."
Not tonight. The fans are jumping up and down like this is the playoffs, rooting on anybody that happens to be wearing white. Even Green. Even Alex Ovechkin. And certainly P.K. Subban, who played to the audience by throwing on Skinner's No. 53 jersey for his breakaway challenge attempts.