Team scouts fill the floor of the Staples Center on draft day.
Well, it’s been a whirlwind two days for this goddesses, with non-stop draft action. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This is by far my favorite NHL event. To see these young kids having their dreams come true is just awesome. Sure, some will make it to The Show, others may not, but this weekend, those that are selected by an NHL organization have every chance to play professional hockey. My only regret is that goddess Kaat was not here to share in the excitement.
Mr. Goddess and I went down the hotel lobby just before noon to see an anxious Pierre McGuire. Most of the media were already checking out, as they would only be there for the first day. Mr. Goddess approached him and asked if he was ready for a big day. He responded with “It’s already been a big day.” By then, rumors of a Ballard trade with the Canucks were widely circulating.
While the draft didn’t start until 4PM local time in Los Angeles, doors opened at 2PM so we went down to Casey’s, an Irish pub and bar just down the street from the Biltmore. More agents and consultants were on hand, trying to get a bit to eat. Phones were ringing and guys were looking stressed out. I noticed they all ordered salads. Ah, the joys living on the road and eating the food that goes with it.
Just before 2PM we hopped on one of the buses that the hotel was providing for the Biltmore and Hilton. Just a few staff members were on the bus, as well as a handful of Russians that I assume were team staff as well. Upon our arrive to the Staples Center, we began to see prospects and agents filing in. Most of the scouting staffs were already set up and were already at work.
Finding a seat wasn’t bad even though we were relegated to the 3rd level with the rest of the commoners. Going to see the NHL draft on a beautiful Friday evening in LA isn’t a big attraction for most Californians. However, I was disappointed that they didn’t at least have a flyer with the final prospect rankings to give the fans. Although I followed many of the prospects closely, I hadn’t memorized the rankings and it would have been nice to give people something to look off of – at a small cost.
Taylor Hall becomes an instant celebrity after being chosen first overall
We watched with great anticipation for the first pick. It was no surprise that Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin were picked one and two. For most, seeing the first pick is the highlight of the day. Instantly, Taylor became a celebrity and had a small mob following him around, asking for autographs and photos.
I’ll talk about specific picks in a follow-up post, but suffice to say there were some surprises, including Stanislav Galiev not being picked in the first round.
The pace of a professional draft is slow, so the NHL tried to show general profiles of the kids and some other little snippets of interviews. These were actually very entertaining, and there certainly would have been plenty of time to show perhaps a more detailed profile on each pick with interview clips and narrated highlights - a thought for future drafts.
The interviews were short compilations where they would ask kids a question and show several answers. It was a great way to get to know these prospects and I found myself pulling for a couple of kids based on their answers.
The newly dedicated "Rush" star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame - Maybe Alex Petrovich visited it too.
One such interview clip asked the question “If you could play in any band, what would it be?” Alexander Petrovich, who was eventually taken by Florida (man did they have a lot picks this year) said “Rush!” It warms me to see the younger generations discovering such a classic group. Oh, Alexander, you have a couple of fans for life in the goddesses.
Another “awww” moment came when prospects were asked what was one thing they couldn’t live without. Among the “iPod” and “xbox” answers was Phoenix Coyotes pick goalie Louie Domingue’s awesome response. “My cats,” he said. “I love my cats.” He has officially earned a spot in my heart. Who doesn’t love an emo French-Canadian boy?
After everyone had been picked, we sneaked down to speak briefly to Ron Delorme, old friend and chief scout of the Canucks. The scouting staff had had a quiet day as they had traded their first round pick to Florida in a trade that gave them Keith Ballard. Ron admitted it hadn’t been a very exciting day for the scouting staff and they’d do a lot of sitting the next day as their first pick now wasn’t until the 4th round.
Fourth overall pick Ryan Johansen outside the Staples Center
Leaving the arena, most people had left but we did run into Ryan Johansen, the 4th overall pick by Columbus. He was still on an adrenaline high, so I stopped to chat for a few seconds and snap a picture. He said he was super excited to be drafted by Columbus. He had been courted by them and fell in love with the organization and said he was totally psyched to have been picked by them. In fact, he was so excited he asked me to take a picture with him. He really wanted to share his excitement. What a great day for a great kid.
While waiting for the bus we saw another mob scene. It turned out to be Sidney Crosby literally being chased by a large group of autograph seekers. He was smiling, waving and signing as he rushed to his limousine. It was oddly reminiscent of a movie star being caught outside a restaurant. I’ve gotta give it to the kid – he’s got it down.
The ride back to the hotel was interesting, as I ran into Slava Malamud from Washington D.C. For those of you who don’t know him, he’s the bald guy with glasses that interviews all the Russians in D.C. in the locker room. He works for Sport-Express and was there for the first round before running up to San Jose to cover a fight. We talked about Russia, Moscow and the Russian language. I have to say, he was a great guy. There was absolutely no pretense or attitude that many members of the media have and I really enjoyed our conversation. No wonder he’s so successful.
After getting back to the hotel and downloading some pictures, an exhausted duo headed to dinner at an expensive seafood restaurant near the hotel, then back to Casey’s for a drink. There, we saw three of the Thrasher’s scouting staff. I stopped on my way back to our table that was right next to theirs and congratulated them on picking Alexander Burmistrov. Maybe the day hadn’t gone how they planned, but they looked at me as if I was from Mars, arms crossed and sarcastic responses to my questions. Maybe it’s because I was woman, and we certainly don’t know anything about hockey. Or perhaps they’re such celebrities that they get bothered all the time and get tired of the attention. Maybe, it’s because they’re the peons of the scouting staff. Whatever the reason, my 30 second conversation clearly was something they had no tolerance for. It’s too bad, because the Thrasher’s already have problems with getting fans. You think they might at least humor one of their few supporters.
The night ended far too late as we had to get up and do it all again early the next day, but it was lots of fun. So much so, I think I’ll try to do it again next year. This time – with goddess Kaat in tow.
Photos: NHL Entry Draft weekend by Goddess Sasha. Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved.