NASHVILLE -- Eyes wide open at the stars all around, Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly said it really hit him when he landed here Thursday night. He's an All-Star for the first time in his career and he'll be on display this weekend in Bridgestone Arena.
"It was exciting, especially coming to a town like this where everyone is excited for the event," O'Reilly said. "It's nice to get in here and take in the whole experience. Today is a busy day but a fun day too. A lot of prep and media. It's been great."
In Saturday's skills competition, O'Reilly is entered in the shootout relay and the one-timers events. Then comes Sunday's 3-on-3 showcase with O'Reilly on the Atlantic Division team that will meet the Metropolitan stars.
"It's going to be interesting," he said. "There's so many good players and the pace of the game is so quick with the back and forth. I'm looking to be good defensively and hoping to have offense come from that. It's more of an experience just trying to enjoy it."
O'Reilly said he's most interested in playing with Atlantic captain Jaromir Jagr, the ageless 43-year-old who has led the Florida Panthers to the top of the division.
"He's a legend and has been so around long and done so much," O'Reilly said. "It will be exciting to meet him."
The other exciting part of All-Star Weekend? Each player gets a personalized Gibson guitar in a swag collection compiled by organizers. O'Reilly plays and said he has a dozen guitars.
"I'm getting it shipped back to Buffalo," he said. "That was definitely a nice surprise, being a guy that loves music. To get an authentic Gibson guitar like that is pretty special. I play a little bit. I try. I may not be that good but it's definitely a hobby I've always loved."