Friday, June 19, 2009 | 5:50 p.m.
The NHL’s biggest and brightest stars have been shining across Las Vegas this week as the league’s annual awards show took over the Palms and, as a result, the city’s nightclubs.
Local poker and blackjack tables haven’t been spared, either.
While the players may technically be hockey stars, they’ve been partying like rock stars since they arrived.
An impressive collection of players crowded the VIP section at Lavo on Wednesday night as one of their own, San Jose Shark Jeremy Roenick, hosted the club’s weekly “label junkie” party. (Off the ice, Roenick has a clever line of slogan T-shirts called Muze.)
At the club that night was Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks, Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, and Mike Richards of the Philadelphia Flyers, among many others.
While yesterday’s the main event was supposed to be the awards show, which got underway at 4 p.m. inside the Pearl Theater, the show itself was a total sleeper compared to what followed.
Ticketholders were treated to an open-air, open-bar party at the Palms pool directly after the show.
A Canadian up-and-coming alternative rock band called the Arkells provided the soundtrack, which proved to be far more exciting (and, some would say, appropriate) than the awards show’s entertainers, Chaka Khan and hockey-loving, sweet-singing crooner Robin Thicke.
Also seen poolside: 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.”
Meanwhile, Ovechkin, Sergei Fedorov; Mark Messier, and Pavel Datsyuk were just some of the award-winning players, past and present, among the crowd. The league’s love-him-or-hate-him commissioner, Gary Bettman, was also there.
Later, the doors of Rain nightclub opened for more post-show fun, though the party inside was more of a laidback cocktail reception where people could mix and mingle with the players and coaching staff within the club’s shiny surrounds.
There was no DJ AM and while the display of NHL trophies was impressive, it certainly didn’t compare to resident Saturday night headliner Paul Oakenfold’s Perfecto Vegas party.
The official awards afterparties ended at 9:30 p.m. but of course the party didn’t stop then.
The high-profile names and famous faces had dinner and then, refueled, hit the town once more.
Bettman and the league’s brass hosted an impressive reception with an even more impressive view in the Palms’ double-sized sky villa.
Connelly popped by for a few minutes and joined the small crowd out on the terrace where “Simon the Magician” performed roving illusions and mind-blowing mind-reading tricks.
Meanwhile, the partying shifted into high gear on The Strip, as the night’s award winners celebrated their new hardware (and the scorned nominees quickly overcame their losses) amidst the sexy surrounds of Tao.
While the party wasn’t official or affiliated with the league in any way, shape or form, the party served as a who’s-who of the NHL:
Detroit Red Wings Chris Chelios and Nicklas Lidstrom; Chicago Blackhawk Patrick Kane; Philadelphia Flyers Richards and Riley Cote; Sergei Federov and Mike Green of the Washington Capitals; Roenick and his wife, Tracy; New York Ranger Scott Gomez; and Columbus Blue Jacket Mike Commodore were all there.
Mark Messier, Kirk Muller, and Anson Carter, who have all hung up their skates and retired from the league, also came out for the party.
Avid hockey fan, movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer was also there, as was the party-hopping Connolly, comedian Eddie Griffin and “General Hospital” actress Kristen Storms.
Now that the awards have been handed out, the dust has settled and the sun has risen on another day in Las Vegas, the hockey players (and their devoted fans) aren’t showing many signs of slowing down.
The Palms is once again the place to spot some of the league’s biggest names – the Palms pool, especially, this afternoon.
Tonight, a just-announced (read: just made public) "Keep Hope Alive" benefit honoring Roenick will take place in another sky villa at the swanky resort.
Not just another party, organizers have arranged for some very special entertainment – former Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale -- to give a unique midnight performance as part of the very exclusive event.
“Over 100 of National Hockey League's brightest stars, alumni, celebrity guests” are said to be confirmed to attend the sky-high party, and all proceeds from the $200-per-person event will support Stacia and (NHL legend) Luc Robitaille'is non-profit, Echoes Of Hope.
Who knows where the night will lead the fast-skating, hard-partying bunch from there. But, if the last few nights serve as any indication, it won’t be to bed for an early or quiet night in.
Correction: This story has been changed to correct the team Jeremy Roenick plays on.