Las Vegas Sun

December 10, 2023


Las Vegas revs up for NHL Awards

Players break the ice with parties as they await hockey’s highest honors

Hockey in Motion

NHL 2K10 cover model Alexander Ovechkin and Selke Trophy finalist Ryan Kesler helped warm-up Las Vegas to this week's award ceremony with a motion-capture session Tuesday in front of Caesars Palace.

If New York is the city that never sleeps, Las Vegas is the city where the party never ends.

While that may or may not be true, things have been especially busy here in the so-called Entertainment Capital of the World.

There has been little sign of the recession recently, from an entertainment and party perspective, at least, and as the five film-filled day and six-action-packed night-long party otherwise known as CineVegas comes to a close, the city is revving up for its first taste of the NHL Awards.

Similar to CineVegas, most NHL Awards-related events will take place at the Palms.

While hockey’s highest honors won’t be handed out until Thursday, the league’s players, managers and fans have already begun descending upon our fair city in advance of the event.

Things officially got underway at Caesars Palace tonight.

Video game company 2K Sports is presenting a public “motion capture” event featuring Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin and Vancouver Canuck Ryan Kesler.

The demonstration is free to watch and was taking place in the outdoor Roman Plaza.

Wednesday, an NHL Charity Shootout poker tournament featuring some of hockey’s biggest card-carrying, card-playing heavyweights will take place at the Rio.

The players will face off against some of the biggest names in professional poker starting at 9 a.m.

Later that night, some of the league’s brightest stars, past and present, will gather at the Palms for an exclusive reception.

The event, which is by invitation-only, will be hosted by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Palms owner George Maloof and held in one of the resort’s sky villa suites.

Taking in the view will be awards show presenters Pat Burns, Doug Gilmour, Pat LaFontaine, Pat Kane, Mark Messier, Reggie Lemelin, Andy Moog, Stan Mikita and Luc Robitaille – unless they’re still playing cards across the street.

Jeremy Roenick is also on the guest list but given his affinity and impressive track record as a poker player, the San Jose Shark may very well be a no-show for the reception.

The charity card game is expected to continue until 9:30 p.m. and the reception will last just two hours, from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.

Regardless of both Roenick’s card game and appearance (or lackthereof) at the sky-high cocktail hour, JR will host a party of his own later that night, at Lavo.

Keeping in line with his line of slogan-covered clothing, Muze, Roenick will host “Label Junkie Wednesdays” at the Palazzo nightspot. (Cover: $20 for guys, $10 for gals, local ladies free.)

Also Wednesday night, 100 lucky guests of the league will frolic with the bunnies at a private party at the Playboy Club. The sure-to-be-sexy soirée will take place from 10:30 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. in the club’s fireplace lounge.

While that party is a private one, the rest of the Playboy Club will be open to the public. (Cover: $20 for guys, free for the ladies.)

Awards day will officially get underway at 3 p.m. on Thursday with a red carpet outside the main doors of the Palms.

The arrivals are open to the public and will provide onlookers with a who’s-who of the league’s greats, past and present.

Current players who have been confirmed for the event include Washington Capitals Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green; Pittsburgh Penguins Evgeni Malkin; Detroit Red Wings Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom; Chicago Blackhawk Kris Versteeg; Boston Bruins Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas; and Philadelphia Flyer Mike Richards.

Meanwhile, NHL legends Tony Esposito, Sergei Fedorov, Doug Gilmour, Kelly Hrudey, Pat LaFontaine, Igor Larionov, Brian Leetch, Reggie Lemelin, Mark Messier, Stan Mikita, Andy Moog, Luc Robitaille, Jeremy Roenick and former NHL coach Pat Burns will also walk the carpet and pose for photos.

The famous faces won’t be restricted to those who play or have played pro hockey for a living.

Grammy Award-winners Robin Thicke and Chaka Khan will be there, as will Canadian buzz band the Arkells. The three groups will provide the soundtrack and musical entertainment for the evening.

Other well-known stars expected to attend include Michael Bublé; Kevin Connolly of “Entourage;” William Fichtner of “Prison Break” and “Blades of Glory” fame; former “Battlestar Galatica” and current “Burn Notice” starlet Tricia Helfer; and Colin Ferguson from “Eureka.”

The red carpet will be a busy place, with all of the stars expected to arrive, walk, pose and do their thing within less than an hour.

Why the rush? Because the awards show starts at 4 p.m. inside the Pearl Concert Theater and all the entertainers, presenters and potential recipients have to be in place before the event begins.

A limited number of tickets are still available for those who want to rub elbows with hockey royalty. (Interested? Contact the Pearl box office and Ticketmaster for more details.) For those fans who would rather keep their distance, however, the whole thing will be broadcast on Versus (and CBC in Canada).

After all the hardware is handed out, a post-awards party will be held at Rain.

Unfortunately, the celebration is closed to the public and is limited to awards show ticket holders ages 21 and up.

However, an unofficial-yet-totally-public post-show party will take place at Tao that night.

The curiously-named, “Ice and Dice: Hollywood Comes to Vegas” bash starts at 10 p.m. and while no names have been attached to the event, it would be unsurprising to see someone like Jerry Bruckheimer there, since he satisfies both the hockey and Hollywood requirements with his Tinseltown ties and publicly-stated desire to bring the NHL to Vegas.

While it’s anyone’s guess who from hockey and Hollywood will be there, rapper Wale has been confirmed and will perform the song he collaborated with Lady Gaga on, “Chillin’,” sans Ms. Gaga. (Cover: Free with NHLPA card, $20 for men, $10 for women, free for local ladies.)

And finally, while no NHL-affiliated events have been announced for the day after the awards, it’s pretty safe to say the Palms will be crawling with NHL stars as they revel and recover from the night before.

Nothing is public but sources say there is a private party or two planned so it wouldn’t be surprising to see some player spill over, at Ditch Fridays especially.

Melissa Arseniuk writes about Las Vegas entertainment and celebrity events. She can be reached at 702-948-7823 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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