©Pensacola News Journal
PENSACOLA, Fla. – A few weeks ago, Brian Eklund was helping the Pensacola Ice Pilots get into the ECHL playoffs. Today, he’s the third goalie for the Tampa Bay Lightning as the team tries to claim the NHL’s Stanley Cup.
Eklund is doing a Stanley Cup diary for the Pensacola News Journal, describing the experience of playing for hockey’s top prize.
Here is Eklund’s diary from Monday, May 24:
Today was Media Day.
At the practice center, we have two rinks side by side. There was so much media here they had to cover one entire rink. The players stood at podiums, and the reporters walked around to the players to get their interviews.
It was the first time I’ve ever been a part of something like that. There were 600 people on hand … it was a circus.
Honestly, I think I only talked to one guy. It was a “Hey, how are you doing?” type of thing.
The line in front of the podium occupied by (Tampa star) Martin St. Louis was, like, seven deep. It was amazing.
After that, we did some goalie work before full practice with the team. After that was more practice. It was upbeat, some of the fastest skating I’ve seen. If you had looked into the stands, you’d have seen (former NHL coach and Canadian broadcast legend) Don Cherry looking back at you. To see him in person is just unbelievable.
During practice, I took about 20 minutes’ worth of shots. (Tampa star goalie Nikolai Khabibulin) Nikki and backup John Grahame needed some work. We had a day off Sunday, so they wanted to get ready.