Luke Adam repeatedly made himself very clear. The Buffalo Sabres' rookie is thrilled to be part of NHL All-Star Weekend, but he doesn't want to embarrass himself competing against the best in the world. So, along those lines, he wanted to do anything in the Skills Competition tonight except the hardest-shot contest.
Just imagine, Adam said Friday, watching Boston slap shot king Zdeno Chara fire a 100-mph blast and following that up with your own 70-mph shot. No thanks.
A half-hour later, Adam got the news he dreaded. When the All-Stars gather in Scotiabank Place, the Buffalo forward will be competing against the big shooters. Teammate and fellow All-Star Jason Pominville couldn't help but laugh.
"He'll have fun with it," Pominville said at Media Day in a downtown hotel. "He'll do well, too."
Adam insists he's no threat to dethrone Chara, his team captain, but he will have fun taking the ice with the top players.
"It's pretty neat to be here," Adam said. "It's a huge honor, huge thrill to be in the same category as some of these players. I'm having a lot of fun."
The hardest-shot challenge will be Adam's only event. Pominville will be the target shooter in the skills challenge relay and skate in the elimination shootout for the team captained by Daniel Alfredsson.
"I just didn't want to do the hardest shot or the fastest skater, so I got away with it pretty good," Pominville said.
Former Sabres defenseman Brian Campbell, now with Florida, is in the fastest backward skater race and is a passer in the accuracy shooting challenge. Chicago forward Patrick Kane, from South Buffalo, will be in the breakaway challenge, elimination shootout and the passing accuracy portion of the skills challenge relay.
Pominville, from nearby Montreal, will welcome family and friends to Ottawa today. No matter how much joy they bring, the Buffalo captain can't fully forget the Sabres' struggles.
"It's always on your mind," Pominville said. "You always, constantly try to find ways to improve yourself or find ways to improve the team. It's on everybody's mind, and it should be that way. We want to be better, and we know we can be better. There's a lot of games to be played yet, and we've got to make a push. We've got to make it soon."
He was asked about the play of Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, who continues to be the subject of trade rumors.
"He's a grown man. He's obviously taking a lot of heat," Pominville said. "He's the face of our team. He'll always have pressure, and he knows it. He wants to be the guy that brings us all the way, and we're going to need him to be that guy to go all the way.
"But at times, it's us in front of him that isn't doing the job."
Boston goaltender Tim Thomas decided not to join his Stanley Cup champion teammates during a trip to the White House this week because he isn't happy with the American government. It's clear he's growing unhappy with the repeated questioning about his decision.
"Everything that I said and did was as an individual, not as a representative of the Boston Bruins," Thomas said. "All it has to do is with me, but it's separate from hockey. That's my personal life. Those are my personal views. Those are my personal beliefs. It has nothing to do with hockey. It has nothing to do with this All-Star Game. It has nothing to do with the Boston Bruins.
"I would really appreciate it if people would leave my teammates and my family out of it."
Pominville's most politically correct answer during Media Day came from an entertainment reporter who asked, "What city has the best-looking women?"
"My wife's from Montreal," Pominville said, "so I'll go with Montreal definitely."