ATLANTIC CITY - You know, if you didn't know any better, it'd be hard to tell the NHL ever left.
In front of a sellout crowd of over 10,000 at Boardwalk Hall, 32 NHL stars put on the most entertaining hockey show of the year. It was what you'd expect, too: Henrik Lundqvist kicking ass in goal, James Neal getting booed by Flyers and Rangers fans alike, Martin Brodeur looking really, really old and Simon Gagne looking as good as ever in orange and black.
Team New York, captained by Brad Richards, rolled all over Team New Jersey, captained by Scott Hartnell, by a final score of 10-6, but much like the NHL All-Star Game, the final score didn't really matter. Over a billion dollars* were raised for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, and for a night, people from all over the area were able to forget about their problems - whether those problems are as simple as not having NHL hockey to watch or as complicated as no longer having a home thanks to Sandy's devastation.
The crowd was an electric mix of Flyers fans, Rangers fans, Devils fans and even an Islanders fan or two. I lost track of the number of "We want hockey!" or "Fire Bettman!" chants that echoed through the cavernous Hall throughout the night, but they were loud and frequent. Rangers fans may have had more to cheer for much of the night -- 10 goals will do that -- but when Team Hartnell put the puck in the net, it felt like we were at the WFC.
There were even "Crosby sucks!" chants, which we're pretty sure the Rangers faithful also joined in on.
We'll have more photos, video and reaction from the night in Atlantic City on Sunday.
*Not an actual figure. More details are coming on exactly how much money was raised later this week.