A draft definately involves politics, so this was interesting on more than one level. The winners gave everyone (at least, every woman) goosebumps, but watching the losers was heartbreaking. How do you look at a kid in a suit, sitting in the stands, looking down at the floor as he sees the 7th round winding down? Bertrand Raymond, the columnist for Ruefrontenac.com, seemed to be asking himself the same question as he looked on to the two young men who were being consoled (the article that resulted from this can be found here.)
But the draft had good moments. A lot of good moments. Managing to get a smile from Bob Gainey (at least, as much of a smile as Gainey is capable of) is high up on the list.
The setup for the draft was interesting: journalists weren't allowed on the draft floor, but were seated in a stand behind the teams instead. There were interview areas for players, but not for general managers, or coaches, so scrums would form in little corners, over the barricade, or in corridors.
And these scrums made me realize something. I consider myself a newbie hockey fan, but a pretty knowledgable newbie. However, being in the presence of EVERYONE, from EVERY team, I realized I don't know anyone at all. Often 5 journalists would surround someone, fans would wave papers & sharpies in their face, and I wouldn't be able to name them. But most times, I think even the fans didn't know whose autograph they were seeking.
Heck, I stared at Dan Bylsma for a good ten minutes before going "OH! Penguins!" And he was sitting at the Penguins table the whole time.
Two I did recognize, with only half the context, were Kris Letang and Angelo Esposito, who spent friday night hanging out, happily signing autographs and speaking to whoever approached them. Them, along with second pick Victor Hedman, seemed some of the most genuinely excited to be part of this experience. Hedman was even present at 9am saturday morning, walking arond with a Tampa Bay representative, smiling at everyone and everything.
The quote of the weekend goes to Matt Duchene, Colorado's first pick. While he was headed to the press area, about five kids ran down the stairs of the stands to get his autograph. He was all smiles and signing, but after two, he suddenly stopped. He turned to the Colorado representative behind him, and asked, genuinely concerned: "...Am I allowed to do this?"
Thumbs down do have to be given, and they will be given to Brian Burke, for his mean face both days, and the "adding fuel to the fire" comments he made about Montreal, and Renaud Lavoie, of RDS, who was not part of the journalistic camaraderie that seemed to exist between every other journalist, and who I heard a worker say "he was the one who was complaining yesterday too" about.
And a major thumbs down goes to whoever was running the sound system on friday, when it was basically impossible to hear ANYTHING.
That's about it. I was given NHL Draft gear, and gave caps to kids who were playing hockey in the street. They seemed genuinely happy. Hopefully their parents don't think a sexual predator is in the neighbourhood.