Thanks in no small part to the old adage "It's not what you know but who you know" I recently had the opportunity to go to the NHL Entry Draft. A friends brother is an executive with the NHL so he provided my family with amazing tickets that put us in the front row of the section reserved for draftees and their families. From this vantage point my two youngest brothers, my father, and I witnessed the first round of the draft. While, in all honestly, it did get a little boring at times (it is just a sequence of names being called out) it was still pretty interesting and a neat experience that I don't regret going to at all.
We arrived just before the actual draft began so we missed most of the Commissioners opening remarks and basically just had to wait a few moments for the Blackhawks to make their first selection - a young American named Patrick Kane. He was sitting in another section reserved for players exactly opposite us inside Nationwide Arena (in Columbus, OH). In fact the first five selections were all on the opposite side of the stadium. The third pick, Kyle Turris by the Phoenix Coyotes, was upstaged by the man who announced the draft pick, none other than "The Great One" Wayne Gretzky. I believe Wayne received the loudest and longest ovation of the night - even surpassing the announcement by Commissioner Bettman that the local team, the Blue Jackets, were on the clock.
I have been a lifelong Boston Bruins fan. My seat, however, was directly behind the Montreal Canadiens table. This is their "War" table where about ten team executives sit and debate who their next pick will be. If you know anything about the Bruins you know their natural rival is, none other than, the Canadiens. While the Bruins were able to pick with the 8th overall selection (Zach Hamill) it was the Canadiens who occupied most of my attention as I regularly sent out "boos" in their general direction. Their first pick was the 12th in the draft and they picked a guy right out of high school - Ryan McDonagh. I thought that was pretty cool, but interesting all the same. The NBA recently put a block on drafting kids out of high school yet baseball and hockey continue to do so. There was an uproar when kids were drafted into the NBA - so why is the media so silent on the same drafting policy of major league baseball and hockey? Inquiring minds want to know.
I took a lot of photos of the event but many didn't come out very well because I am a poor photographer however I put up the best ones I had in an online photo album. You can also read a much more humorous review of the draft over at Page 2 on espn.com courtesy of Bill Simmons