Saturday, June 21, 2008

NHL draft recap

It was summer 1992 and the NHL draft was at the Montreal Forum, some buddies and I hopped on the metro and went down to watch it in person. Nowhere near the production it is now, we stuck around for the first few picks and landed up at the Peel pub for cheap beer and bad spaghetti.

Fast forward 16 years later and I’m working the 2008 draft, repeating all the picks in the arena and thanking sponsors. Spending all season calling goals from the 400 level, I was thrilled to announce from the floor. What I didn’t know was how close we would be. Our spot was 30 feet from the stage and a Zdeno Chara stick away from Tampa Bay’s table. Walking into the bowl on Friday afternoon was like winning a contest, it’s a who’s who from the NHL where on one hand you see a guy like Brian Burke who is intimidating at the best of times and a hockey hall of famer the next.

The exciting part is watching these kids get picked, hugging their family and friends and the grin they wear is contagious. From our location some of the highlights included watching top pick Steven Stamkos greet his new bosses, Atlanta’s top pick Zach Bogosian looked like he just won the lottery (first rounders tend to have just paid their mortgage on their un-built home) Anaheim second round selection and local boy Eric Odell walks by me, I congratulate him and the response is a polite (and still shocked) “thank you”. Rimouski Oceanic center Patrice Cormier is off to the Devils and the walk from his low level seat in section 108 to his new team on the floor must have felt like a mile.

Ever wanted to know how they get the kids name on the big board right away? A quick peak backstage revealed all of the eligible names are spread out alphabetically and the staff get the names turned around quicker than you can say Alex Pietrangelo.

For more photos from the draft including the Senators picts, click on the galleries tab on the Sens website.